18.06.2024

Waiting list lengths at your hospital REVEALED with our search tool

More than 60 per cent of patients at the busiest hospitals have waited at least 18 weeks for routine procedures, MailOnline can reveal today. The proportion is about five times smaller at the quietest sites, our analysis found.

Under the NHS’s own rulebook, anyone referred for treatment by their GP has the legal right to be seen within that time-frame. 

But not a single trust is meeting the target of ensuring 92 per cent of patients are seen within the 18-week deadline. Nationally, hospitals in England haven’t met this target in seven years.

Politicians and experts today said the figures — crunched into a handy search tool for MailOnline readers — lay bare the ‘shocking postcode lottery’ which millions of patients are forced to endure.

They also urged the Government to ‘get a grip’ on the ‘scandalous’ delays, with the backlog for hip replacements, cataract surgery and other elective procedures now standing at a record 7.33million.

Covid-induced delays, a huge staffing crisis and a winter of devastating strikes and extraordinary pressure have fuelled the problem.

Queues at worst trust, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, saw just four in 10 (39.6 per cent) of patients left waiting under 18 weeks. Similar low levels were also seen at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, with 43.7 per cent of patients seen in the same time period. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust followed with 45.8 per cent, while Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust recorded 46.4 per cent and 46.6 per cent respectively

Queues at worst trust, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, saw just four in 10 (39.6 per cent) of patients left waiting under 18 weeks. Similar low levels were also seen at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, with 43.7 per cent of patients seen in the same time period. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust followed with 45.8 per cent, while Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust recorded 46.4 per cent and 46.6 per cent respectively

No10 this week vowed to stamp out the ever-growing delays by offering thousands queuing the chance to ‘shop around’ to be seen quicker. 

Eligible patients will be offered faster treatment hundreds of miles from home in a bid to beat the queues. 

They will be able to search details like distance and current waiting times using the NHS app before deciding where they want to be referred. 

NHS stats show that, across England in March, 58.6 per cent of patients referred for treatment had been waiting fewer than 18 weeks.

But that means slightly more than 3m were past the 18-week deadline. 

MailOnline analysis of trust data found queues were worst at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. 

Only 39.6 per cent patients on its list had yet to breach the threshold. It means the other 60 per cent, or 200,000, had been waiting at least four months to be seen.

Similarly low levels were seen at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (43.7 per cent).

Other sites that dipped below the 50 per cent mark included: 

  • Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (45.8 per cent)
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (46.4 per cent)
  • Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (46.6 per cent) 
  • University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust (46.8 per cent) 
  • Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (47.3 per cent) 
  • York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (48.1 per cent) 
  • Stockport NHS Foundation Trust (48.3 per cent)
  • Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust (48.4 per cent) 
  • Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (49.1 per cent) 
  • East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust (49.8 per cent)

Official figures showed 7.33million were left waiting for operations such as as hip and knee replacements at the end of March. The backlog is up from 7.22million in February and marks the highest total since NHS records began in August 2007. Almost 360,000 patients have been forced to endure year-long waits for their routine treatment, often while in serious pain

Before the pandemic hit, in February 2020, 4.4million patients were on waiting lists. Just 1,600 of those had been stuck in the system for over a year. But the number of year-long waits has since spiralled 200-fold to almost 360,000. Hospitals in England carried out over 310,000 procedures in March. The pre-pandemic average was around 305,000 per month

Before the pandemic hit, in February 2020, 4.4million patients were on waiting lists. Just 1,600 of those had been stuck in the system for over a year. But the number of year-long waits has since spiralled 200-fold to almost 360,000. Hospitals in England carried out over 310,000 procedures in March. The pre-pandemic average was around 305,000 per month

For comparison, the same figure stood at 87.2 per cent at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. This means just 13 per cent of patients had been waiting 18 weeks for treatment.  

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust came second in the charts, with 80 per cent of patients still within the four month period.

Daisy Cooper, health spokesperson for the Lib Dems, told MailOnline: ‘These figures reveal a shocking postcode lottery.

‘Under the Conservatives, far too many patients are having to wait in pain for months or even years for treatment.

‘Ministers need to get a grip or these scandalous delays. That means coming with a proper plan to recruit the extra NHS staff we need and give patients the care they deserve.’

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: ‘Patients across the country are waiting far too long for the care they need.

‘Steve Barclay and Rishi Sunak have no plan to fix this mess of their own making, which means the longer the Conservatives are in power, the longer patients will wait.

‘Labour would cut waiting times and build an NHS that is fit for the future with one of the biggest expansions of the NHS workforce in history, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status.’

Meanwhile, Dennis Reed, of Silver Voices — which represents senior residents, said: ‘These missed targets are symptomatic of an NHS no longer delivering world class health services.

‘People who are very ill and in pain are being forced to wait months for treatment which is needed urgently.’

He told MailOnline: ‘This is bonkers health economics because delay usually means more costs in the end.’

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, said: ‘Trust leaders’ number one priority is delivering timely, high-quality care to patients.

‘The NHS’ elective recovery plan prioritised tackling the longest waits first, and trusts have made remarkable progress on this.

‘They have reduced 78-week waits by over 90 per cent despite recent challenges including strikes and winter pressures.’

She added: ‘Trust leaders are working extremely hard to tackle waits through better waiting list management, diagnostic and outpatient transformation, the use of community diagnostic hubs and surgical hubs, as well as working with the independent sector.

Official NHS data shows almost 200,000 hospital appointments and procedures in England were cancelled during junior doctor strikes in April. It took the total number of appointments and procedures cancelled since NHS strike action began in December to above 500,000

‘It’s equally important that we see progress in addressing delays in mental health and community services.

‘However, to tackle these challenges, we need to plug the 124,000 staffing gaps across the NHS and ensure adequate capital funding. The government’s long-term workforce plan can’t come soon enough.’

MailOnline’s analysis ruled out specialist NHS trusts, such as ones for cancer, kids, women, and orthopaedics. 

The data strictly looks at routine operations and does not include cancer patients — who need to be seen quicker. 

Before the pandemic hit, in February 2020, 4.4million patients were on waiting lists. Just 1,600 of those had been stuck in the system for over a year.

But the number of year-long waits has since spiralled 200-fold to almost 360,000.

Waiting lists rocketed after the response to coronavirus forced hospitals to cancel tens of thousands of routine operations and turn over entire wards to patients with the disease.

Social distancing and other pandemic precautions also made it difficult to chip away at the backlog. 

Under the new guidelines announced by Rishi Sunak this week, patients who have waited 40+ weeks for treatment will be asked if they want to be referred elsewhere, with bosses hoping to extend this to 18 week waits in time.

Despite the idea being introduced almost two decades ago, just one in ten patients currently exercise their right to choose where they receive treatment.

As well as allowing patients to switch to hospitals with shorter lists, NHS officials are using virtual wards and ‘one stop shops’ — community diagnostic centres rolled out across the country — to help tackle the backlog. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer this week unveiled his plans to reform the NHS, which includes a similar pledge to give patients more choice on where they are treated.

It comes after the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) revealed that the number of Brits paying for private medical treatment has began.

Some 272,000 patients forked out for ops such as hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery in 2022.

Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: ‘There’s been significant progress, with two-year waits near on eliminated and waits of more than 18 months down to under 11,000, from a high of almost 125,000.

‘Staff have worked incredibly hard in some of the most difficult circumstances the NHS has ever faced.’

He added: ‘If the NHS is to continue to reduce the backlog and begin to get back to meeting the 18-week target, there will need to be an increase in surgical capacity. This includes operating theatres, beds and staff.

‘A shortage of nursing and anaesthetic staff means that at times operations can’t go ahead, even if there is a surgeon ready to operate.

‘Alongside a fully-funded NHS Workforce Plan, we’d like to see surgical hubs established in every area of the country, allowing patients access to operations sooner in their own areas.’

An NHS spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The average wait for treatment is currently 14 weeks, down five weeks from its peak, with over one million people treated within 18 weeks last month alone and nationally the NHS is working with the most challenged trusts to ensure patients continue to see reductions in waiting times right across the country.

‘In line with the NHS elective recovery plan, the priority is treating those patients who have been waiting the longest — waits of two years were virtually eliminated last summer, waits of more than 18 months are down over 90 per cent on their peak, and our focus has now turned to reducing waits of more than 65 weeks by next March – already down by two fifths since October.’

Meanwhile, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Cutting waiting lists is one of the government’s top five priorities and we have announced plans to empower patients to choose where they receive NHS care, including from a provider with a shorter wait, with analysis showing this could reduce individual waits by up to 3 months in certain areas.

They added: ‘The NHS is making strong progress to tackle the backlog and has reduced the number of patients waiting for more than 18 months by over 91% since the September 2021 peak and virtually eliminated two-year waits for treatment.

‘NHS trusts are using innovative surgical hubs and surgical robotic systems to help drive up the number of operations and improve outcomes for patients.

‘We have also opened 106 community diagnostic centres, with over 3.9 million tests, checks and scans carried out since July 2021.’

A spokesperson for Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust told MailOnline: ‘Colleagues and teams across the whole hospital are working tirelessly to bring all of our appointments forward where possible, with patients being seen and treated in order of clinical priority.

‘The Trust is constantly reviewing our waiting lists and will contact patients as soon as possible if their appointment does change.’

How all NHS trusts fare in seeing patients within 18 weeks 
NHS Trust Proportion seen within 18 weeks (%) Number of patients waiting to start treatment
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust 39.6 203,719
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust 43.7 143,418
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust 45.8 66,776
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust 46.4 41,264
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 46.6 35,342
University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust 46.8 128,861
Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 47.3 37,614
York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 48.1 49,714
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust 48.3 46,897
Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust 48.4 84,413
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 49.1 87,722
East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust 49.8 61,738
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust 50 116,180
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust 50.1 40,038
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust 50.3 73,507
Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 51.2 54,525
James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 51.3 24,360
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 51.3 77,163
The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust 51.4 27,012
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust 51.4 66,996
Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust 52.2 145,937
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust 52.5 58,638
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 52.7 57,752
University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust 52.7 113,153
Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust 53.2 166,335
Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust 53.3 35,841
The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 53.4 31,097
University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust 53.5 66,379
Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust 53.7 42,270
University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust 53.8 72,743
Isle of Wight NHS Trust 54 14,212
Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust 54 73,488
North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust 54.1 75,646
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust 54.1 76,836
Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 54.2 82,007
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 54.2 15,028
Barts Health NHS Trust 54.6 114,663
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust 54.9 50,990
Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 55.1 35,721
University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust 55.1 49,548
Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 55.3 89,195
Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 55.8 19,816
Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 56.2 30,430
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust 56.4 34,998
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust 56.4 49,784
Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust 56.8 66,727
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust 57 75,791
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust 57.7 74,973
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust 57.9 83,070
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 58.2 60,308
The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust 58.2 46,644
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust 58.2 52,944
Wye Valley NHS Trust 58.3 21,776
Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 58.6 38,658
Somerset NHS Foundation Trust 58.6 38,355
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust 58.7 47,623
London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust 58.7 75,375
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust 59 47,866
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 59.1 41,046
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust 59.5 78,649
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust 59.6 98,372
West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust 59.7 31,373
Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust 59.8 50,143
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 60 55,836
East Cheshire NHS Trust 60 12,290
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust 60 92,125
Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 60.2 24,608
Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust 60.2 26,712
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust 60.3 39,752
Medway NHS Foundation Trust 60.3 36,834
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 61.1 34,945
North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust 61.1 33,883
Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust 61.2 37,507
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 61.2 71,970
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 61.7 50,338
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust 61.7 51,405
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 61.9 67,588
Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 62.1 26,731
Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust 62.2 39,879
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 62.2 72,649
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 62.3 46,200
Whittington Health NHS Trust 62.4 21,057
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust 62.6 54,535
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust 63 63,314
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust 63.1 19,370
Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust 63.2 25,462
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust 63.2 55,332
North Bristol NHS Trust 63.4 47,287
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 63.6 89,453
Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust 64 21,107
Airedale NHS Foundation Trust 64.3 14,584
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, NHS Foundation Trust 64.7 21,001
Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust 64.9 98,886
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 65.4 50,051
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 65.6 50,711
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust 66.5 37,828
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 66.9 47,727
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust 67.1 48,852
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 67.3 84,437
South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust 67.3 32,014
The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 67.4 100,140
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust 67.5 32,371
George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust 67.7 16,426
Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 67.8 14,482
St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 67.9 58,934
The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 67.9 26,438
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust 68.1 32,745
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 69 72,816
Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 69.6 32,201
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 70 38,792
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust 70.4 45,019
Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 70.9 5,859
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust 71 12,879
North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust 71.1 22,280
Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust 71.5 24,847
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 72.6 82,287
Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 73.8 20,878
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust 75.3 57,704
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust 75.5 20,038
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust 75.7 31,916
Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 79.7 26,147
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 80 33,834
Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust 87.2 23,859

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