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NEARLY a quarter of a million people have been waiting more than a year for NHS treatment, the highest number in over 12 years.
Data from NHS England shows 224,205 people in December had been waiting for more than 52 weeks — the last time the list hit similar numbers was in April 2008. In December 2019 the figure was just 1,467.
The figures also show that a total of 4.52 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of December — the highest number since records began in August 2007.
Royal College of Surgeons of England vice president Tim Mitchell said the figures showed the impact of lifting the November national lockdown on the NHS.
“By Christmas, some surgeons were facing the awful job of calling up patients waiting for cancer operations to tell them they weren’t sure when they would have a bed or the staff in place to operate.”
Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Dr John Puntis said: “These shocking figures give the lie to the claim that the NHS has been both protected and has coped during the pandemic.
“What is now needed is a radical vision for repairing the damage and building a properly resourced health and care system for the future.”
Shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “PM Boris Johnson needs to explain how his reorganisation [of NHS policies] in the midst of a pandemic will bring waiting times down, improve cancer survival rates and provide the mental health care people so desperately need.”
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said health staff have worked extremely hard to provide essential services but warned that the service “remains under significant pressure.”
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