The overall NHS waiting list in England increased by 79,000 and waits for a trolley shoot up the highest since hospital records began in 2010
NHS waiting lists have grown again as A&E trolley waits arise to a new record high.
The total care backlog now sits at 6.2 million in March while 22,506 A&E patients waited more than 12 hours from a decision to admit to actually being admitted.
The total time spent in A&E for these patients is much longer, given they will have waited to be seen before the official clock started ticking for NHS England’s records.
Such trolley waits have shot up from 16,404 in February, and is the highest record since it began in 2010.
The monthly data is a 30-fold increase from the 700 emergency patients who waited that long last March.
A total of 136,297 people waited at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission, another all-time high.
Just 71.6% of patients in England were seen within four hours at A&Es last month, the lowest ever percentage.
The operational standard is at least 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. This has not been met since 2015.
Danielle Jefferies, health analyst at The King’s Fund, said: “A&E departments remain full of patients in need of urgent care, and separate data shows a similar story in general practice and social care.”
The average response time last month for ambulances in England dealing with the most urgent incidents – defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries – was nine minutes and 35 seconds, NHS England figures show.
This is up from eight minutes and 51 seconds in February and is the longest average since current records began in August 2017.
The overall NHS waiting list in England increased by 79,000.
At the end of February just 63% of patients on the list had waited for less than 18 weeks. This is way below the 92% minimum standard in the NHS constitution.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The immediate problem has basically been that we were hoping that the Omicron surge would have tailed off and that we could hit top speed on care backlog recovery.
“Instead what we’ve seen is the number of people with Covid in hospital double from 8,200 six weeks ago to 16,400 at the start of this week.
“We’ve got 70,000 staff off, 40% of them with Covid, and we’ve got 20,000 medically fit patients that we can’t discharge because of the massive increase in pressures on social care, again, significantly driven by Covid-19 .”
NHS England has been focusing on those waiting the longest for planned treatments and in March reduced numbers waiting for one and two years for the first time since last year.
Latest monthly data for February shows two-year waits down slightly by 12,000 to 299,500.
Winter saw 999 call handlers deal with a record number of the most serious calls during winter with 304,000 category 1 calls between December and March.
Some 2.2 million people attended A&E in March, up 20% on the previous month and the highest March ever.
NHS England medical director Prof Stephen Powis said: “Nobody should be under any illusion about how tough a job NHS staff have on their hands, balancing competing priorities and maintaining high quality patient care.
“Despite pressure on various fronts and the busiest winter ever for the NHS, long waits fell as staff continue to tackle two-year waits by July thanks to the innovative approaches to care they are now adopting – from same day hip replacements to dedicated mobile hubs for operations.
“If you need help, especially over the often busy bank holiday weekend, please do come forward for the care you need through NHS 111 online and if it’s an emergency, dial 999 or go to your nearest A&E.”