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Sunday 15th September 2019

Waiting times in England

28th October 2011

Founder of Gooroo Ltd and a specialist in waiting time dynamics, Rob Findlay, argues that waits aren’t as bad as they used to be.


Following the recent release of the RTT waiting times, the Department of Health warned that “those who have already waited over 18 weeks must not be forgotten”.

As patients wait longer, it is easy to lose track of their needs as data errors build up and it becomes less clear which patients really need treatment and those that do not.

Waiting times are still a problem with some 20,000 patients in England having waited longer than a year for their treatment.

But 20 years ago, waits of two years were common, often just for the inpatient stage.

A national task force was formed to help clear the backlog and some of the problems they came across ranged from the comical to the tragic.

Looking back to a waiting list print out of 10 March, 1992, some of the problems/anomalies identified included: a lady apparently aged 117 listed nine years ago for a breast reduction; a man listed in 1987 who was offered an opportunity for an operation but was cancelled because of ‘no theatre time’ and who has still not been offered another date; a girl of 15 listed for a rhinoplasty but is now aged 28; and a six-year waiter identified as needing a further operation on his right ear to correct an earlier, unsuccessful, one.

With the extreme waits behind us there still remains the risk with over-one-year waiters of personal tragedies like those above. Until the longest-waiters have all been verified, and where necessary treated, that risk and uncertainty will remain.


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