St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust: all the key numbers for the NHS Trust in April

Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust in April, figures show.

Embargoed to 0001 Monday January 24 File photo dated 03/10/14 of an NHS hospital ward. Health unions are calling for an inflation-busting pay rise to tackle the NHS staffing crisis and increasing waiting times for treatment. Issue date: Monday January 24, 2022.
Embargoed to 0001 Monday January 24 File photo dated 03/10/14 of an NHS hospital ward. Health unions are calling for an inflation-busting pay rise to tackle the NHS staffing crisis and increasing waiting times for treatment. Issue date: Monday January 24, 2022.

Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust in April, figures show.

The Society for Acute Medicine said the current picture across the NHS in England – where 6.5 million people are waiting to start treatment – is "unacceptable and unsustainable" for patients and staff.

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NHS England figures show 33,930 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust at the end of April – up from 31,903 in March, and 23,874 in April 2021.

Of those, 1,642 (5%) had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust was 10 weeks at the end of April – up from nine weeks in March.

Nationally, 6.5 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of April.

Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the SAM, said the healthcare workforce and its capacity are currently the key issues facing the NHS, but that the latest figures show there is no easy solution.

He added: “The current experience for patients with long waits for both emergency and elective care is intolerable and this is causing significant morale injury to clinical and operational staff in NHS and social care who wish to provide high quality care for patients.

“The current situation is unacceptable and unsustainable for patients and staff.

"It is essential that the Government urgently commits itself to the long-term solutions.”

Some 12,735 people were waiting more than two years for hospital treatment at the end of April – nearly five times the number waiting in April last year, but down from a record 23,778 in January.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England said this shows "light at the end of the tunnel".

Tim Mitchell, vice president of the organisation, said: “Surgical teams have been working around the clock to reduce the enormous waiting list which built up during the pandemic.

“However, there are still big challenges ahead. As people return to the NHS, demand is only getting stronger.”

The Government has set the ambition to eliminate all waits of more than two years, except when it is the patient’s choice, by July of this year.

Separate figures show 1.5 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in April – a fall from 1.6 million in March.

At St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust, 11,044 patients were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 2,152 (19%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures from NHS England show that of 103 patients urgently referred by the NHS who were treated at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust in April, 93 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.

A month previously – when 91 patients were referred – 79 were treated within 62 days.

In April 2021, 78 patients were treated within this period, out of 90 that were referred.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said the NHS still faces pressures, but added: "Hard-working NHS staff are making significant progress in ensuring people waiting the longest time for care are getting treated."

The Department of Health and Social Care said it is tackling the Covid backlog and rising demand for the NHS with record investment.

A spokesman added: “Good progress is being made on cutting waiting times with a two thirds reduction in the number of patients waiting longest for treatment since February."