As the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 resources were diverted and thousands of routine operations were cancelled throughout the country as hospitals struggled to cope with rising admissions.

Whilst many understood the reasons for such cancellations the number of people waiting for non-urgent surgery has now reached a record high. Figures released by NHS England show that in February 2021 there were around 4.7 million people waiting for routine operations. Such figure is the highest recorded since 2007.

NHS England confirm that during the winter peak they were able to perform two million operations however the continuing pressure has led to a startling number of 388,000 people waiting for more than a year for non-urgent surgery. This figure was as low as 1,600 prior to the start of the pandemic.

National Medical Director for the NHS in England, Professor Stephen Powis stated that treating 400,000 patients with Covid-19 over the course of the last year had “inevitably had an impact on the NHS”. He praised the hard work and dedication of the staff to deliver the operations and procedures they did during the winter wave of the pandemic.

As pressure appears to be starting to lift on the NHS in terms of Covid-19 patients, attention is turning as to how Trusts can restore operations and try to clear the waiting lists. The NHS is due to receive an additional £3bn this year to help services recover after the Covid-19 pandemic, with £1bn being used to directly tackle the elective backlog and cut waiting lists.  

Delays in being able to access surgery can have a huge impact on a patient, whether it be a very poor quality of life whilst waiting for access to surgery or more critically if delays relate to a progressive disease such as cancer; the delay may result in a diagnosis becoming life limiting and have a devastating impact on a patient and their family.

For more information

If you, or a loved one, has been adversely affected by a delay in diagnosis or treatment, or are concerned about the treatment you have received, then please contact a member of our team for a free, confidential discussion.

Although we are, for the time being, not able to meet clients in person, our specialist clinical negligence team at Freeths is here to support and advise clients. We are available for meetings and consultations via telephone, email, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and any other digital platform that works for you.

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham/Manchester/Liverpool) on 0845 274 6830

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/London/Bristol/Milton Keynes) on 0186 578 1019

 Jane Williams, Partner (Nottingham/Leicester/Sheffield/Leeds) on 0845 272 5724