Published 16 April 2020
The latest data on deaths from Covid-19 suggests we are past the peak in the UK. It is early days, and the NHS is still fighting active cases, but one of the next mountains to climb is the growing waiting list. In January there were over 4.4 million people officially waiting for treatment - more than 700,000 of them have been waiting for longer than 18-weeks. These numbers are probably an understatement. Given hospitals have been told to postpone non-urgent operations for at least three months, so without anything else changing the waiting time for treatment will be at least three months longer. That is before considering the impact of urgent cases. Our modelling suggests that the median waiting time will increase from 8.5 weeks to 13.5 weeks and that an extra 2.7 million people will join the 4.5 million currently waiting for treatment.
This waiting list is a big challenge, particularly when front-line staff are recovering from the disruption of Covid-19 and need to maintain vigilance. Is it really going to be a return to business as usual to solve this problem?