NHS urged to routinely publish non-hospital waiting lists

·2-min read

The NHS is being urged to routinely publish non-hospital waiting lists after it emerged that more than one million people are waiting for care in the community.

A record 6.6 million people are waiting for hospital care in England, according to NHS data which is published monthly.

But new figures, obtained by the Health Service Journal, suggest that more than a million people are also waiting for community health services.

The figures include 75,000 children waiting for care from community paediatric services – which provide help to children with additional needs, developmental concerns, medical and long-term health conditions and support for those with learning and physical disabilities.

And 74,300 young people are waiting for speech and language therapy.

The HSJ reported that some 1.04 million people are waiting for community services in England, including nearly 300,000 children.

This includes more than 321,000 people waiting for musculoskeletal services, such as physiotherapy.

Leading physiotherapists called for more transparency over the data and more to be done to fully restore services after the Covid-19 crisis.

Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: “These figures demonstrate what we’ve been warning about for some time – that the failure to fully reopen physiotherapy services is having an awful impact on patients.

“If services do not have access to the space, equipment and staff they require, they cannot provide the level of rehabilitation patients need or shorten waiting times.

“The focus on waiting lists for surgery is understandable but those same lists could lengthen without urgent support for community services.”

She added: “We need greater transparency from NHS England over waiting times in the community, as we get in the devolved countries.

“It’s essential that we know how many people need treatment and how long they are waiting if we are to deliver the quality of care that is needed.”

An NHS spokesperson said: “NHS England published data on community care in April in response to an FOI request, and are currently looking at a proposal to improve data collection and quality so we could routinely publish this data in future.

“Many community services were paused during the pandemic as the NHS cared for over 813,000 Covid patients and delivered the largest vaccination programme in health service history, but as more people come forward for care they have delayed, community care numbers have inevitably increased and we have asked healthcare systems for their latest plans to tackle waiting lists in the coming months.”

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