Hospital waiting list rises as Trust struggles with its Covid backlog

Around 1,000 more people were on the waiting list in March at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW), than in February, latest data shows.

The Trust, which runs both the Pembury-based facility and the main hospital in Maidstone, had seen waiting lists for non-emergency or life-threatening treatment fall for the first-time last month since they reached record levels in November when its waiting list peaked at 39,341.

But according to the latest NHS figures released last Thursday (May 12), there were 38,715 people waiting for non-emergency procedures in March.

While down from last year’s peak, it was up by nearly 1,000 from February’s figures of 37,775 patients on the waiting list.

The figures also show that only 70.8 per cent of patients are being seen within 18 weeks, compared to the government target of 92 per cent, but that target has not been hit since the pandemic began in March 2020.

There has been an increase in the number of people waiting for general surgery, which includes hip and knee operations, rising from 4,163 in February to 4,436 in March.

Ophthalmology has the longest waiting list at MTW, with 7,310 waiting for treatments such as cataract operations, although this was down from 7,854 from February’s figures.


“…according to the latest NHS figures released May 12 2022, there were 38,715 people waiting for non-emergency procedures in March”


The average wait time for non-emergency treatment at MTW currently stands at 10.5 weeks, which is down from 11.4 weeks in February, meaning people are getting seen more quickly.

Nobody at MTW was available for comment on the waiting list increase, but a spokesperson did say the Trust has seen an increase in referrals and is the only Trust in the South East to not have any patients waiting more than a year for treatment.

The data released by the NHS for March show that across England, routine hospital treatment has hit a new record high, but the number of two-year waits has fallen.

Total waits for procedures stood at 6.4 million at the end of March, up from 6.2 million in February and the highest number since records began in 2007.

But the NHS England figures, published on Thursday (May 12), show that the number of people waiting more than two years has dropped for the second month in a row.

A total of 16,796 people in England were waiting more than two years to start routine hospital treatment at the end of March, down 28% from 23,281 at the end of February.

But this is still more than six times the 2,608 people who were waiting longer than two years in April 2021.

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