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The Royal Free London: all the key numbers for the NHS Trust in December

98,257 patients were waiting for treatment at the main hospital trust serving Barnet at the end of December reports Marieta Marinova, Data Reporter

Medical staff consulting a screen at the end of a hospital corridor
Nationally, 7.6 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of December – (Credit – Radar)

Almost 100,000 patients were waiting for routine treatment at the Royal Free London in December, figures show.

A health think tank said while the overall waiting list appears to be stabilising, “the Prime Minister’s pledge to bring the waiting list down will not be met”.

NHS England figures show 98,257 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust at the end of December – up slightly from 97,504 in November, and 91,857 in December 2022.

Of those, 5,051 (5%) had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at the Royal Free London was 15 weeks at the end of December – the same as in November.

Nationally, 7.6 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of December – slightly down from 7.61 million in November and the third consecutive fall.

Sarah Scobie, acting director of research at the Nuffield Trust, said: “While 6,000 is only a very small fall, it has been achieved despite industrial action and winter pressures.”

However, she added the figures show the Prime Minister’s pledge to bring the waiting list down will not be met.

“In fact, today’s figures reveal that there are almost 400,000 more outstanding treatments now than when Sunak’s pledge was made last January.

“While the overall waiting list for treatments or operations appears to be stabilising, it is hard to see a route to making faster and more significant progress, with staff already working flat out and under immense pressure.”

Separate figures show 1.6 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in December – the same as in November.

At the Royal Free London, 16,047 patients were waiting for one of 14 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 1,009 (6%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures show cancer patients at the Royal Free London are not being seen quickly enough.

The NHS states 85% of cancer patients with an urgent referral should start treatment within 62 days.

But NHS England data shows just 56% of cancer patients urgently referred to the Royal Free London in December began treatment within two months of their referral.

That was down from both 57% in November, and 60% in December 2022.

Professor Pat Price, co-founder of the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign, said the King has demonstrated transparency, leadership, and courage in his reaction to his recent diagnosis and has given cancer an increased profile, which is “a timely reminder that the disease will touch every family across the land as one in two of us will be diagnosed”.

He added: “In light of the continuing dire state of cancer performance in our country confirmed again by these figures, we are urging the Government to show similar qualities and adopt a new ‘get it done’ approach.

“If ever there was a time for a serious new priority on cancer, backed by radical action, it must be now.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Cutting waiting lists is one of the Government’s top five priorities and, despite winter pressures and the impact of industrial action, overall NHS waiting lists have decreased for the third month in a row.

“We’re determined to continue improving patient care, having already delivered on our promise to create 5,000 extra permanent hospital beds and 10,000 hospital at home beds, freeing up capacity and cutting waiting times.”

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