Further drop in number of people facing longest waits for NHS care
The NHS performed a record number of diagnostic tests for March while continuing to bring down the number of longest waiters for elective treatment, as part of the most ambitious catch up plan in NHS history, new figures show.
The latest monthly performance data, published today, show more than two million diagnostic tests were carried out – the highest total for March on record – and an increase of 217,000 on the previous month (Feb 2022).
It was also the highest month on record for cancer referrals, with 253,796 people checked in March alone – an almost 40% increase on the number of checks made in March 2020.
Alongside this, almost 30,000 people started treatment for cancer (28,378) – the second highest number on record. This is second only to March 2020, with 28,881 people starting treatment.
While the total waiting list now stands at 6.36 million, increasing numbers of people are coming forward following the pandemic with 1.78 million people referred for treatment in March.
The number of people waiting more than two years for elective treatment continues to fall, dropping by almost 6,500 between February and March, while those waiting more than 78 weeks – a year and a half – dropped by 5,700 over the same period, showing the NHS is making progress against its elective recovery plan aims to eliminate long waits.
Today’s figures show the health service is recovering as COVID cases reduce, but pressure on services including urgent and emergency care continues – April 2022 had more life-threatening ambulance call-outs (78,582) and 999 calls answered (860,414) than the same month in all previous years.
A&Es also saw the second busiest April on record, with more than two million people attending and 480,000 admissions. Overall emergency admissions in the past 12 months are up 9.8% on the preceding 12-month period.
Bed capacity continues to be constrained with 94% of adult general & acute beds occupied in April. This comes as today’s data also shows during April almost 12,589 beds were taken up on average each day by patients who no longer needed to be in hospital due to pressures in places including social care.