Patients 'waiting three years for gender identity clinic consultations' (Independent: 12 December 2015)

The portrayal of transgender characters and issues in mainstream media has triggered a surge in demand for services provided by gender identity clinics, experts say.

Patients now have to wait up to three years to be seen at a gender identity clinic (GIC), a phenomenon that can be partly attributed to transgender issues featuring in programmes such as EastEnders and high-profile figures such as Caitlyn Jenner promoting transgender rights. 

Average waiting times for someone referred to a GIC in England have risen to between 12-18 months, according to UK Trans Info, as the NHS struggles to cope with the increase.

There are currently only seven adult GICs across the whole of England: one in London catering for the whole of London and the South-east; one each in Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle, covering the North; one each in Daventry and Nottingham, covering the Midlands; and one in Exeter for the South-west.

Waiting times at the Leeds GIC are the worst, having trebled from 62 to 182 weeks in the 12 months to September this year, said UK Trans Info, which collates data from clinics every quarter. The waiting list in England has increased by 1,000 in England alone over the past six months.

There are now more than 4,000 people on GIC waiting lists across the UK. Almost half of those are waiting to be seen at the West London GIC at Charing Cross Hospital in London, the busiest in the country. The number of people having their first appointment in England between May and July this year rose by 51 per cent, yet waiting lists across all GICs in England still rose 35 per cent on average in the same period. Scotland has four GICs and Northern Ireland one, where waiting times varied between six and 56 weeks...read more

 

NHS pressure increases as A&E waiting times INCREASE with 12 per cent waiting over four hours (The Mirror: 28 November 2015)

Fewer people are seen within four hours due to so called 'bed blockers' who cannot leave because there is not the right social care in the community for them

A&E waiting times are getting worse according to a new study with elderly and frail people occupying hospital beds because there is nowhere else for them to go. Shocking new figures reveal more patients are having to wait more than four hours for treatment as pressure on the NHS intensifies.

Figures collected by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) over the last seven weeks showed at worst 88% of A&E patients were treated or admitted within that time frame - below the government target of 95%. The waiting time target is widely regarded as a key measure of how the NHS is performing. The data from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine is based on evidence submitted by more than 40 health trusts - one in five of the total in the UK...read more

 

NHS waiting times for elective surgery spiked last year, report finds (The Guardian: 24 July 2015)

Delays faced by patients for common forms of surgery increased sharply last year, with those referred for hernia repairs or removal of cataracts, tonsils or adenoids now waiting about a month longer than in 2010, NHS statistics show.

The waiting time for seven key procedures in England now ranges from 91 days, for gallstone removal, to 107 days, for a knee replacement. In just a year, the average waiting time for cataracts removal rose by a third (24 days) compared with 2013.

The Patients Association, which is publishing the data online on Saturday, said its analysis suggests 50,000 people waited longer than 18 weeks for at least one of the procedures, which also included hip replacement, last year. Under the NHS constitution, everyone has a right to receive elective surgical treatment within 18 weeks after being referred by their GP...read more

 

Eating disorder patients' lives at risk due to long waits for NHS treatment (14 June 2015: Guardian)

The lives of people seriously ill with eating disorders are being put at risk because they have to wait up to three years for NHS treatment.

Experts warn that specialist services are struggling to cope with a growing caseload and are so overstretched they have to prioritise patients with anorexia, because they are at greatest risk, ahead of those with bulimia – even though their condition is seriously affecting their lives.

Patients forced to endure long delays are at greater risk of serious damage to their health because it deteriorates while they are waiting. They also have a smaller chance of making a full recovery.

 

Patients stuck in A&E for up to 46 hours - the number of hospitals recording A&E stays of more than 20 hours has doubled in just one year, a Telegraph investigation discloses (The Telegraph: 26 April 2015)

Patients are being forced to endure stays of up to two days in Accident & Emergency departments amid a growing crisis as NHS beds run out. A Telegraph investigation discloses that the number of hospitals admitting to A&E delays of at least 20 hours has doubled in just one year.

The figures show that this winter, one in three NHS trusts recorded times at least this long – with some patients stuck in casualty units for as long as 46 hours.

The previous year, one in six trusts had patients whose time in A&E exceeded 20 hours, the Freedom of Information disclosures show. Charities said the revelations were “alarming” and “extraordinary” and evidence of a growing crisis, with hospitals now regularly running out of beds as they became crammed with patients.

Levels of “bed-blocking” reached a record high this winter, with rising numbers of elderly people stuck on hospital wards because of a lack of social care services to help them at home. Latest published figures show hospital occupancy levels reached a record high in the last three months of last year - at 89.5 per cent. The recommended safe maximum is 85 per cent, to reduce the risk of infection, but some hospitals reached levels of 99.5 per cent in the run-up to Christmas, it can be disclosed...read more

 

A&E performance sinks to new low (Guardian: 9 January 2015)

Hospital A&E performance sank to a fresh low over the new year, with NHS England statistics showing that emergency departments across England managed to treat just 79.8% of patients within the four-hour target.

The performance during the seven days to last Sunday was officially the worst ever. The figures, released three days after the publication of data showing that A&E waiting time performance had slumped just before Christmas, put the coalition under renewed pressure over the NHS.

Other figures from NHS England, which reveal a sharp escalation in other problems over the festive period, especially in the week including and just after the new year, indicate the service was on the brink of a winter crisis.

Ambulances had to queue for at least 30 minutes outside an A&E unit in England on 29,388 occasions in the three weeks between 15 December and 4 January, unable to hand over their patients to A&E staff because the emergency department was too busy.

That was more than double the 12,615 such incidents in the comparable three weeks in the winter of 2013-14.


Thousands attempt suicide while on NHS waiting list for psychological help (The Independent: 16 September 2014)

Thousands of people have attempted suicide while on an NHS waiting list for psychological treatment, according to a comprehensive new study of mental health services in England.

In the latest evidence of a hidden mental health crisis, a coalition of leading charities and medical professionals report that one in 10 patients are waiting for more than a year just to be assessed for treatment, and one in six made an attempt on their life while on a waiting list.

GPs report a “huge rise” in the number of mental health conditions, which has coincided with cuts to mental health services and psychotherapy posts in many parts of the country.

The consequent delays in accessing treatment can be disastrous for patients, the report from the We Need to Talk coalition warns. In a survey of 2,000 patients, one in six said they had attempted suicide while waiting for treatment, four in 10 said they had self-harmed, and two thirds said their condition had deteriorated before they had a chance to see a mental health professional.

The report, which focuses on referrals for treatment under Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, also reveals stark variations in the number of patients being referred and treated on time in different parts of England.

IAPT services, which include talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling, which are predominantly for patients suffering with anxiety and depression, provide vital early intervention which are intended to prevent a crisis, such as a suicide attempt, further down the line.

Most NHS areas saw between 1,000 and 3,000 IAPT referrals in the last quarter of 2013/14 – but in some areas there were fewer than 100, suggesting that many patients are not being referred for the help they need. There was also significant variation in the length of time patients had to wait for specialist treatment.Pressure on IAPT services represents just one symptom of a wider crisis in mental health care. Services have been disproportionately cut in many areas as commissioners attempt to balance the books during the longest funding squeeze in NHS history. Since 2012, the equivalent of more than 200 full-time mental health doctor posts have been cut, along with 3,600 nursing posts.

 

Key cancer waiting time targets missed (The Telegraph: 29 August 2014)

Thousands of women with symptoms of breast cancer are being forced to wait before seeing a specialist after the NHS admitted it is breaching a key target for the first time.

Cancer patients are also having to wait too long before starting treatment as a second target is being breached for the second quarter in a row, statistics have revealed.

Critics say the failure to meet the targets show the NHS is struggling to cope with the growing pressure that rising numbers of cancer patients and better screening is placing on the health service.

 

Two-thirds of Britons with depression get no treatment (The Guardian: 13 August 2014)

Less than a third of people with common mental health problems get any treatment at all – a situation the nation would not tolerate if they had cancer, according to the incoming president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

While the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has pledged to deliver "parity of esteem" for mental and physical health services, the treatment gap is now so huge that it may prove impossible to bridge in the current financial climate, said Professor Simon Wessely of King's College London in his first interview since election to the post.

"People are still routinely waiting for – well, we don't really know, but certainly more than 18 weeks, possibly up to two years, for their treatment and that is routine in some parts of the country. Some children aren't getting any treatment at all – literally none. That's what's happening. So although we have the aspiration, the gap is now so big and yet there is no more money," he said.

 

Welsh ambulance response time target missed in June (BBC News: 30 July 2014)

Welsh ambulances have again missed their target of reaching 65% of life-threatening incidents in eight minutes.

The figure for June was 53%, down from 54.1% in May and 62.6% in June 2013.

The Welsh government said the results were "disappointing" as the health minister wanted month-on-month improvements.

Plaid Cymru said there was "no excuse for this continuing failure" to hit the target while the Welsh Liberal Democrats said it was a "huge concern".

There were 35,570 emergency calls, of which 14,167 were Category A and of these 53% of responses arrived within eight minutes.

Ambulance crews arrived at the scene of Category A calls within 30 minutes in 96.7% of cases.

Welsh Conservatives shadow health minister Darren Millar: "An immediate medical response to a heart attack, stroke or serious accident can make the difference between life and death."

The Welsh government spokeswoman added: "Information we've received from the Welsh Ambulance Service for July to date shows there has been a marked improvement in the eight-minute response time performance and an overall reduction in the number of long handover delays at hospitals." 

 

Call to review waiting times for routine surgery (BBC News: 10 July 2014)

A re-think is needed on the waiting time target for routine operations as 18 weeks is too long for some patients, the new leader of UK surgeons says. Royal College of Surgeons president Clare Marx says the "one size fits all" approach needs reviewing.

The Patients Association has backed the call for a debate, saying it is unfair to apply waiting times rigidly. But health officials say the 18-week target will not be changed and that fewer patients face very long waits.

The target is the period between a patient being referred by their GP and beginning their treatment. In most cases that should be no more than 18 weeks. A similar target is in place in Scotland, while in Wales it is 26 weeks.

But in an exclusive interview with the BBC, Ms Marx says there are people, such as those needing a gallbladder operation, for whom the current waiting times are too long.

 

NHS facing summer crisis as A&E performance deteriorates, says Labour (The Guardian: 10 June 2014)

An unexpected summer crisis is developing in the NHS, with performance in accident and emergency departments deteriorating, bucking the normal trend of waiting times being worse in winter than summer, according to the Labour party.

The figures show a record number of patients attending hospital A&E departments in any one week and a record number then admitted to hospital wards. The figures show a total of 296,667 going to A&E in the last week of May, again raising questions about the adequacy of GP services. Of these 77,745 were admitted to hospital.

A&E departments are supposed to see, treat, and admit or discharge 95% of patients within four hours of arrival at hospital, but in the last four weeks the number of patients waiting more than four hours has ranged from 22,231 a week to 24,503.

 

Woman brain damaged after ambulance delay awarded £5m (BBC News: 17 June 2014)

A scientist who was left brain damaged after waiting more than 100 minutes for an ambulance has been awarded a compensation package worth £5m.

Caren Paterson, 36, collapsed at her home in Islington, north London, in 2007, and her boyfriend called 999. But the address was flagged as high risk and the crew waited just 100m away waiting for a police escort.

The London Ambulance Service offered "sincere apologies" to Ms Paterson, who worked as a genetic scientist.

She eventually suffered a cardiac arrest, five minutes before police and an ambulance team arrived. It left Ms Paterson, who worked at King's College London, with chronic amnesia, confusion and disorientation with the result she will never work again and needs 24-hour care for the rest of her life.

Lawyer John Davis, representing the family, said the delay was because the address in Hargrave Road was inexplicably flagged as being on the "high risk" register, and the ambulance crew was told to wait for the police.

There were no officers available at the time and, despite two more 999 calls, the emergency medical team waited.

 

Derriford Hospital apologises for backlog on CT scans (BBC News: 12 June 2014)

One in six patients currently on the waiting list for a CT scan at a Devon hospital have gone over the required waiting time.

A cancer patient from Plymouth faced a three-month wait for a vital CT scan due to an appointment backlog at Derriford Hospital.

Daniel Pearce had two operations to remove tumours and should have a CT scan every six months.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust apologised for any distress the wait is causing.

Mr Pearce was due to have a scan in June, but due to an increasing backlog he was told he may have to wait until September.

Mr Pearce said: "There isn't an excuse for this...We need to know when I'm going to get that scan and when everyone else is going to get theirs.

 

NHS patients not treated fast enough, say MSPs (BBC News: 3 June 2014)

Concerns have been raised by MSPs that NHS patients in Scotland are not getting hospital treatment fast enough.

Hugh Henry, convener of Holyrood's audit committee, said the health service was failing to meet the legal 12-week treatment guarantee.

The Labour MSP said the Scottish government must outline how the target would be met.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said the health service was "consistently close" to hitting it 100% of the time.

Mr Henry's comments came following an audit committee assessment of an investigation into NHS performance by the public spending watchdog, Audit Scotland, which called for more support to help the health service meet its targets.

Mr Henry said the cross-party committee recognised that there had been waiting time improvements, and that 100% compliance of the target would be difficult to achieve.

 

Worries in Scotland as more NHS patients miss 18-week waiting time target (BBC News: 27 May 2014)

Fewer patients are being treated by the NHS within the Scottish government's target of 18 weeks after they've been referred by their GP. For the first time since the system was introduced, the proportion has fallen below 90 per cent. The worst-performing health board is Forth Valley, with only 80.8 per cent of patients starting their treatment within the target period. Across Scotland as a whole, the figure for March is 89.6 per cent. That compares to 90.8 per cent in December 2013.

As well as Forth Valley, the other NHS boards which did not meet the target were Grampian, Lothian and Western Isles.NHS Highland - which recently switched to a new patient management system - submitted an estimated number which will be revised when the next figures are released.

Mr Findlay said the figures showed the NHS was "breaking under pressure" and should be reason enough for Health Secretary Alex Neil to stand down. He added: "Unfortunately for both patients and staff, Alex Neil will never accept responsibility for what is happening under his watch."

 

NHS admission over chronic pain treatment waiting times (BBC News: 6 May 2014)

A patient has forced NHS Scotland to admit that waiting times for chronic pain treatment are even longer than previously reported.

A report released last week revealed that some patients were waiting up to two years to see a specialist.

After it emerged one patient waited two and a half years to see a psychologist, NHS Forth Valley said there had been an "administrative error" in the report.

The board is investigating the mistake and working to reduce waiting times.

The originally reported mean waiting time to see a psychologist through NHS Forth Valley, 36 weeks, was half that of the actual figure, 78 weeks.

The health board has insisted they sent the correct information to Healthcare Improvement Scotland, but the published error was only brought to light after a complaint from patient Kenny Boyle.

Mr Boyle injured his back playing sports 15 years ago while living in London, and said that when he moved back home to Alloa seven years ago he hoped to receive similar care in Scotland to that in the capital.

However, the 46-year-old found himself on a waiting list for several years, and was thus shocked to read that NHS Forth Valley had listed average waiting times in the Healthcare Improvement Scotland report.

 

NHS hospitals failing to meet targets on treatment waiting times (The Guardian: 20 March 2014)

Patients are waiting too long for surgery, treatment in A&E and vital diagnostic tests at growing numbers of hospitals, NHS figures show. In all 2.9m people were waiting for treatment in January, up by 362,000 from the 2.538m seen in the same month in 2013, and 326,000 more than the 2.574m who were on the list for treatment when the coalition took over in May 2010. That is the highest total recorded in January since records began in 2007-08 and the first time January's total has been more than December's.

The number of patients in England in January who had not been treated within the 18-week target enshrined in the NHS constitution hit 189,179, some 45,438 higher than the same month in 2013, though fewer than in May 2010. In addition, both mean and median waiting times are now the highest since early 2008.

The TDA said that the ongoing squeeze on NHS budgets meant that "the challenge of maintaining national standards is harder than at any point in recent history", though the sector had performed well in difficult circumstances this winter.

Jamie Reed, the shadow health minister, highlighted the lengthening waiting list for operations as "a worrying sign of what lies ahead for patients as NHS lists reach their longest in years."

 

Waiting times soar for life-saving tests in Scotland (The Scotsman: 16 March 2014)

The number of NHS patients in Scotland waiting more than a month for potentially life-saving tests has soared dramatically in the past year. Figures reveal the number of patients on the waiting list for vital diagnostic tests that can pick up serious diseases ­including cancer has soared by 15 per cent in a year, from 41,340 to 47,248. The number waiting more than four weeks has risen from 4,785 to 6,252. There is also huge discrepancy across the country. In some areas nobody is waiting longer than four weeks, whilst thousands are in others.

The figures are the latest waiting times crisis to hit the NHS in a matter of weeks. Last month, it emerged bed blocking by elderly patients waiting for a care home place or assessment had increased by 165 per cent. The figures, released yesterday, revealed more than 11,000 people waiting more than 12 weeks for a new hospital appointment – up from 5,678 at the end of December 2012 and 5,579 at the end of 2011. Waiting times in accident and emergency departments, while better than during last winter’s crisis, are still among the worst recorded with 93.5 per cent of patients dealt with within four hours. Some health boards are still not treating patients within 12 weeks of doctors agreeing a care plan, despite this guarantee being enshrined in law. A total of 1,371 Scots waited more than 12 weeks for hospital treatment.

 

BBC Documentary finds hospital discharge delays 'cost NHS £100m a year' (Health Service Journal: 17 March 2014)

Ambulances taking longer to reach stroke and heart attack victims (The Guardian: 31 January 2014)

NHS hospitals face record levels of 'bed blocking' (The Guardian: 25 January 2014)

Rationing of care as NHS struggles to save £20bn (The Guardian: 5 December 2013

NHS cuts: Half of mental health patients wait over three months for treatment (Yahoo News: 28 November 2013)

Half a million Londoners on waiting lists for NHS surgery (Evening Standard: 23 September 2013)

More than double the number of NHS trusts failing to meet A&E targets (Independent Sunday: 22 September 2013)

1 in 3 patients face A&E delays under closure plans (The Daily Mail: 3 August 2013)

NHS waiting times getting longer due to cuts, health chiefs warn (The Guardian: 3 June 2013)
 
How is the health and social care system performing? (The King’s Fund, Quarterly monitoring report: June 2013)
 
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