The Waiting Game - Waiting times report 2012
In April 2012, we published our report on waiting times following on from our 2011 report on cuts to the number of operations being carried out
We sent a Freedom of Information request to NHS Acute Trusts in England, asking them to provide waiting time figures in nine key areas-
In total waiting times increased by 6% in 2011 when compared to 2010 and a drop of 4.6% in the total number of operations carried out across the areas included in the survey. To read our full report on waiting times, please click here.
The Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham responded to the report saying, "This survey shows that the Prime Minister has not been straight with the public about waiting times in the NHS. After inheriting the lowest ever waiting times in 2010, it would now appear that the NHS has gone backwards for the second year in a row and that is clearly linked to his disastrous decision to reorganise the NHS at this time of financial challenge. David Cameron has made waiting times the central test of his stewardship of the NHS and, based on the emerging evidence, it is clear he is out of touch with the reality on the ground. He is failing patients and they are left waiting in pain and discomfort. With NHS hospitals given permission to treat more private patients, and the costs of reorganisation spiralling, this situation is only likely to get worse and we will hold the Prime Minister to account for it."
Throughout 2010 and 2011 we were hearing from patients and healthcare professionals about cuts to services and longer waiting times for elective operations and other services
In March 2011, our survey of Trusts showed that there were 10,757 fewer surgical procedures carried out across 9 categories in 2010 than in 2009. This included 11% fewer Tonsillectomies, 6% fewer Knee replacements, 3% fewer Hip replacements and 51% fewer bariatric procedures. Our research also showed that patients have to wait longer for some procedures with some patients waiting 8 days longer for Hip and Knee replacements, and 6 days longer for Hysterectomies. To read our report in full, click here
. Our report received a huge amount of press coverage and was debated in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley and the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, John Healey.
You can read their exchange in the House of Commons, here
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association responded to the Secretary of State for Health's comments saying,
"Our figures speak for themselves. The information provided to us by 62 Trusts clearly shows a drop in the areas of activity we asked about. In a small number there were rises but the overall picture was clearly one of a drop."
"The Department of Health has chosen to compare our calendar year figures with figures from a section of 2010. Those figures do not include November and December of last year, when we were hearing about these problems most frequently on our Helpline. This, coupled with the fact that only a third of trusts were willing to let us have their figures for operations carried out, means that like for like is not being compared. Getting Trusts to comply with their legal obligations to provide information like this is a frequent challenge for organisations like ours that constantly strive to ensure that the voice of patients is heard."
"We chose to ask about activity because we had heard from many sources that PCTs were trying to reduce the number of referrals being made, which would not be reflected in the waiting times. Your waiting time clock can’t start if you are not referred in the first place."
"We asked about these procedures because medical and nursing professionals, as well as patients, told us that they had concerns about them. Patients are calling into our Helpline on a regular basis and telling us that they have been denied an operation on a painful hip and knee, or told that they need to wait until the new financial year in April. Professionals are also telling us services are being cut. These are real examples from the frontline that cannot be brushed aside with statistics."
"Our figures, combined with the concerns that patients tell us, reports of a decline in pain management referrals and the worries about reductions in Elective surgery expressed by the President of the Royal College of Surgeons earlier this year, indicate a problem that the Department of Health can’t just sweep under the carpet."
"It is likely that the usual postcode lottery of care is at play once again. Patients in different communities getting different treatment from their local NHS. It brings no comfort to patient being made to wait for an operation in one part of the country to find out that nationally the picture is rosier. Every patient deserves high quality care irrespective of where they live."