Delays in diagnosis caused by long wait times can have detrimental effects on an individual’s treatment and recovery. In the most serious cases, a delayed diagnosis can severely lower a person’s chances of surviving their illness or injury.
Despite the importance of receiving early diagnosis and treatment for many illnesses, including cancer, meningitis, and dementia, NHS wait times are getting progressively longer, with 2.8 million people a month having to wait at least three weeks to see their GP after booking an appointment.
This infographic shows the extent to which patients are facing long wait times for essential healthcare and treatment on the NHS, including life-saving treatment, while below is further information about these statistics.
How long are patients waiting for operations?
In 2018, the NHS operation waiting list hit 4.3 million, the highest number of patients waiting for an operation in 10 years.
The maximum wait time for a non-urgent planned operation is 18 weeks with a target of 92% of patients to be treated within this period. However, in May, 211,434 patients had been waiting for an operation for more than six months, 50% more than the previous year. In fact, the NHS has failed to hit its treatment target every year since 2015, with only 88.1% being treated in time last year.
How long are patients waiting for GP appointments?
Monthly data published in late 2018 revealed that, in October 2.8 million people had to wait more than three weeks to see a GP when booking an appointment. This is the equivalent of about 10.3% of patients in England, an increase from 9.4% the previous year.
The same statistics also show that only two thirds of patients managed to see their GP within one week, demonstrating a growing inability to review and treat patients within a reasonable time frame.
What kinds of treatment do patients have to wait for the longest?
A 2017-2018 NHS report revealed that, as of March 2018, the specialties patients wait the longest for are:
- Trauma and orthopaedics – 461,370 patients were on the waiting list (82.4% of patients)
- Ophthalmology – 394,757 patients were on the waiting list (87.6% of patients)
- General surgery – 309,089 patients were on the waiting list (83.5%)
Waiting times for consultant led treatment
In 2010, the NHS introduced a patient right to start ‘consultant led’ treatment within 18 weeks of a referral to a consultant from their GP (called referral-to-treatment time). Since 2012, the target has been for 92% of patients to be treated within the maximum time limit, with the aim of achieving this target by 2020.
However, referral-to-treatment time has gradually increased over the years and, as of March 2018, 92% of patients were waiting for 21.9 weeks rather than 18 weeks for consultant led treatment.
How long do patients wait for life-saving treatment?
For urgent GP referrals, such as for suspected cancer diagnoses, the NHS referral-to-treatment target is 62 days. However, this target has only been met three times in the past five years, with 130,000 patients waited longer for life-saving treatment than they should have as of March 2018.
For serious illnesses, delaying diagnosis and treatment puts patient health at risk. For example, only half of patients with cancer are currently diagnosed in the early stages of their illness, dangerously reducing the chances of survival in many cases.
A&E waiting times
The NHS Constitution sets a target for 95% of patients attending Accident and Emergency (A&E) to be admitted, transferred, or discharged within 4 hours.
Currently, hospitals are falling far short of the target with under 85% of patients being seen within 4 hours in February 2019.
A&E targets are generally seen as an indicator of the overall health of the NHS systems and procedures because wait times are affected by the pressures placed on other healthcare services, including primary care, social services, and community-based care. The longer A&E wait times are, the greater the pressure on other services. For example, if there are difficulties arranging social care for a patient, there will be a delay transferring them from A&E.
Another reason for increasing wait times is the increasing number of patients attending A&E (although this can also be affected by pressures on other services). As of May 2018, the number of patients admitted to A&E had increased by 42%.
Get legal advice about delayed diagnosis and treatment from our expert medical negligence solicitors
At IBB Claims, we understand how crucial it is for any health concerns to be quickly investigated and diagnosed, so you can get on the road to treatment and recovery without any problems.
Although the NHS is facing more burdens than ever due to cuts and increasing workloads, doctors and medical professionals still retain important duties towards their patients, including duties to:
- Assess their health
- Promptly provide suitable advice
- Arrange investigations into their health issues
- Prescribe treatments
- Refer them to other practitioners or specialists where necessary.
If your doctor fails to take appropriate action in relation to your health, or has negligently delayed treatment, you could be entitled to compensation pursuant to a medical negligence claim.
Our experienced medical negligence lawyers have years of experience providing clear, practical, and sympathetic advice to clients across all kinds of delayed diagnosis and treatment claims.
We pride ourselves on our strong and efficient negotiation skills and our dedication to Alternative Dispute Resolution means it’s likely you will be able to settle your claim out of court.
We understand how distressed and vulnerable you may feel as a result of medical negligence. We devote ourselves to helping you avoid stressful and lengthy court proceedings wherever possible so you can start moving on with your life as soon as possible.
To get in touch with our specialist delayed diagnosis solicitors, call us today on 0333 123 9099, request a call back, or fill in our simple enquiry form.