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Paul Sankey: Shockingly Waiting Lists are Getting Longer

It seems that waiting lists for surgery are once again getting longer. The Patients Association made a freedom information request of every NHS Trust earlier this year to asking about 9 common operations including hip and knee replacements. 62 Trusts replied. From the responses it seems that 10,757 patients did not have an operation in 2010 who would have had they been referred a year earlier. As there are around 170 hospital trusts, it seems that only about a third have replied. The true number of waiting patients is therefore probably around 30,000. And these of course are only the patients waiting for 9 particular operations.It seems that despite pledges to protect the NHS budget, there is real pressure on the ground. There may be a number of factors at work here. Demand for services is rising as patients expectations and life expectancy increases. Pay increases will costs £1bn this year. VAT increases will costs another £250m and there are additional costs of the government’s NHS changes, estimated at £500m, already being incurred. PCTs are being forced to get their finances in order so they do not pass debts to their successor bodies.So we are probably seeing the beginning of a period of financial turbulence for our hospitals. Get ready for stories in the press of hospitals in financial trouble, services being cut and waiting lists growing. The squeeze has begun.All this of course has a human cost. My estimated 30,000 patients who are still waiting for their operations are among those feeling the immediate impact. Some of those awaiting hip and knee replacements will be struggling with pain and disability. For many the everyday tasks of life will have become difficult. Behind the statistics are real stories of pain and sadly these are stories I hear in my work day in day out.Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.