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Orthopaedics scrapes inside waiting target for first time

17/12/2012
by Rob Findlay

It was another record-breaking month in October, with new lows for long-waiting patients on the English waiting list. One-year-waiters fell to 1,281, from 1,613 the previous month and 11,132 the previous year. Over-18-week waiters also reached a record low at just 5.2 per cent of the waiting list, with Orthopaedics achieving the “92 per cent” target for the first time.

But while long-waits are coming down, the total size of the waiting list remains stubbornly high. Usually the waiting list shrinks at this time of year, but not now. It is not a cause for serious concern yet (the NHS is well-able to maintain 18 weeks with this size of list), but it is not a comfortable position to be in. If this carries on, despite ongoing restrictions on patient referrals and healthy levels of patient admissions, then this will be a sign of pressures building up in the system.

In this report all data comes from the Department of Health. You can download our summary of the time trends here: Gooroo NHS waiting times fact checker. Usual caveats: restrictions on patient referrals mean that these figures don’t tell the whole story, and data errors may affect accuracy (especially for incomplete pathways).

England-wide picture

The waiting list is now distinctly higher than usual for this time of year. We really should be seeing it coming down around now, and if this carries on then it will be cause for concern.

Waiting list in England

Waiting list in England

Admissions continue to track the trend of recent years with uncanny precision.

Admissions per working day

Admissions per working day

Long-waits continue to break new records, with particularly impressive falls in the longest-waiting patients on the waiting list.

Longwaiters on the waiting list

Longwaiters on the waiting list

The target that 92 per cent of the waiting list should be within 18 weeks is met comfortably at national level.

92% of waiting list in England

92% of waiting list in England

At specialty level, neurosurgery continues to improve and is converging on the pack. But this month’s big news is that Orthopaedics has scraped inside the target for the first time ever.

92% of waiting list by specialty

92% of waiting list by specialty

The target (that 92 per cent of the waiting list should be within 18 weeks) should be achieved by every specialty in every provider in every month. October saw a new record being set, with 86.8 per cent of provider-specialties achieving the target.

Provider-specialties within 92% target

Provider-specialties within 92% target

Provider top ten

RJAH and Clinicenta are still the outliers with 8 per cent of their waiting lists over 30 weeks. Everyone else is within striking distance of the target.

North Bristol and Bradford failed to supply incomplete pathways (i.e. waiting list) data, so they are not included in the table.

Trusts with more than 50 one-year-waiters who are not shown in the table are: King’s (134 one-year-waiters), Newcastle (106), Guy’s and St Thomas’ (93), Nottingham (76) and the Royal Orthopaedic (52).

Top 10 long-wait providers

Top 10 long-wait providers

Congratulations to the following providers who have dropped out of the table with significant improvements: Nuffield Health Leeds (29.4 weeks to 17.2), Weston (24.2 to 17.9), and Aintree (18.2 to 14.3).

The 18-week statistics for November 2012 are due out at 9:30am on Thursday 17th January 2013. That is also the release date for several months’ worth of data revisions, so the next blog post will unfortunately be a bit later than usual.

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