More than 1.4 million NHS patients, one in every 50 people, are on waiting lists for some key medical test, according to data released yesterday by the national health body.
The figure, updated to the last day of September, is the highest since January 2006, the first year for which statistics are available.
In addition, 26.1% of these patients have been waiting for more than six weeks, whereas the operational standard established by the 2004 NHS Improvement Plan states that no more than 1% of patients should wait that long.
Patients are waiting for an appointment to undergo one of 15 key tests, such as MRIs, CT scans, colonoscopies and echocardiographies, among others. These are basic procedures for the detection of diseases such as cancer, the early detection of which has a direct impact on survival rates
According to the same report, 1.9 million studies were performed during September. This is a stable figure since March, when it recovered to values similar to those before of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the same period, the number of patients on the waiting list increased by 12%.