Backlog of long waits cleared at Bedford Hospital – despite Government missing England target

No patients are facing a 'routine' wait of 18 months or longer
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Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust had no patients facing a 'routine' wait of 18 months or longer for treatment, new figures show – despite the Government failing to eradicate these waits across England.

The Government and NHS England set a goal of clearing all waits of more than 18 months by April – excluding very complex cases or patients who choose to wait longer.

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But the latest figures show the Government has fallen short, with 41% of the 10,737 cases falling into the category of people choosing to wait or exceptionally complex cases – leaving the remainder as routine waits for treatment.

According to the data, seven patients had been waiting for treatment at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for 18 months or more as of March – although the figures suggest none of these were routine waits.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said this broken promise had left "thousands of patients in pain and discomfort for unacceptably long".

“This is just the latest broken promise that shows you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS," he said.

“Ministers blame strikes, as if they are mere bystanders. It was their refusal to speak to nurses and junior doctors that forced them out on strike in the first place," he added.

This waiting list peaked in September 2021, when nearly 250,000 people were waiting 18 months for treatment – including 949 at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust, which includes Bedford Hospital and Luton & Dunstable.

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Trusts have pulled out all the stops to cut by 90% the number of people waiting 78 weeks or more for care – a remarkable achievement against a backdrop of months of strikes, severe staff shortages and a yawning gap between capacity and growing demand.

“Staff and trust leaders deserve credit for continuing to work flat out to see people as quickly as possible and to improve the flow of patients through the whole health system.

“But there’s a long way to go to get waiting times and lists down across physical and mental services to where patients and the NHS want.”

In total, the figures show 89,195 patients were waiting for treatment at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust at the end of March, with 4,322 waiting for a year or more.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Cutting waiting lists to ensure people get the care they need more quickly is one of the Government’s five key priorities."

He continued: “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of healthcare staff backed by Government support, the NHS has now cut 18-month waits by more than 91%."

“Today’s significant milestone shows we’re delivering on our Elective Recovery Plan despite NHS strikes and the challenging winter," Mr Barclay added.