Waiting times for elective operations rise 6%

Waiting times for a range of elective operations rose by 6% between 2010 and 2011, according to a report from the Patients Association.

Andrew Lansley: 'Average waits are falling or remain low.'
Andrew Lansley: 'Average waits are falling or remain low.'

It is based on information from 93 of England’s 170 acute hospital trusts and found fewer patients are having planned operations such as joint replacements, cataract removal and hernia repairs.

The average wait before having a new knee fitted rose from 88.9 days to 99.2 days, while patients needing hernia surgery typically waited 78.3 days in 2011 compared with 70.4 the year before.

The delay before the removal of gallstones increased over the same period, by 7.4 days, as did the delay before having a new hip (6.3 days longer), hysterectomy (three days) and cataract removed (2.2 days).

There were a total of 18,628 fewer operations for these conditions in 2011 than in 2010 (4.6% drop). The biggest fall was in cataract removals. Some 175,731 were performed in 2011, 14,267 fewer than in 2010 (7.5% drop).

Katherine Murphy, Patients Association chief executive, said: ‘We hear lots of talk from the government about waiting times falling but whilst this may be true in other areas, it doesn’t address the problem in relation to elective surgical procedures.’

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘We publish waiting times for different areas of medicine and surgery once a month, every month. They show that the average time that patients wait in areas that cover the operations selected by the Patients Association such as orthopaedics, eye medicine and general surgery, have either fallen in the last year or remain stable at very low historical levels.’

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