Patients have had to wait more than 1,000 days for routine surgery, new NHS figures reveal.
The figures, obtained under freedom of information laws, show that people have been on waiting lists for nearly four years at some of England’s hardest-hit hospitals.
In 15 hospital trusts, patients have waited more than 1,000 days for elective surgery, including knee replacements, spinal surgery and neurosurgery.
Meanwhile, there have been waits of more than two years for surgeries including gastric bypass, shoulder replacements and hip replacements at 31 hospital trusts.
The figures, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, come as the NHS grapples with a major winter crisis, with warnings this week that hospitals are running out of oxygen due to the number of patients being treated in corridors and ambulances.
The NHS’s main oxygen supplier has issued an advisory warning that five types of cylinders are now being rationed with only “full for empty” being exchanged.
Two ambulance trusts warned of oxygen shortages, with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust saying demand for portable oxygen was “higher than during the first wave of the pandemic”.
Some of the hospitals with the longest waits include University Hospitals Plymouth. with one patient waiting over 1,400 days, while the figure stood at over 1,100 days at North Middlesex University Hospital.
At Nottingham University Hospitals, patients have also waited more than 1,300 days for surgery, with 546 waiting more than 18 months.
Daisy Cooper, the health spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, called the surgery delays “shocking”, adding: “Too many people across the country are left awaiting routine surgery in pain. Often these surgeries can make all the difference in allowing someone to live comfortably or return to the workforce.
“Any delay is unacceptable, but there is a tough ZIP code lottery going on, with patients in some areas still languishing on waiting lists for three years or more.
“People are fed up with Tory ministers making excuses and blaming these outrageous delays.”
Recent data from England’s NHS shows that the number of people waiting to start routine hospital treatment at the end of August was 7 million, up from 6.8 million in July. It is the highest number since records began in August 2007.
In October, the number of people waiting more than six weeks for a key diagnostic test reached its highest level since the first wave of the covid pandemic.
An NHS spokesman said: “Despite continued pressures on services, which have been exacerbated by flu hospitalizations, problems in social care which mean we cannot discharge patients who are ready and the record number needing A&E, the staff has worked to reduce some of our longest waits for care.
“The NHS is doing everything it can to reduce long waits for patients even faster, including offering people the opportunity to receive faster treatment elsewhere in the country if they prefer, along with dedicated surgery centers. to increase the number of procedures performed each day.”