Money People Online Money People Online

Search MoneyPeopleOnline:

NHS waiting list rises by 100,000 in 1 month

There are now more than 7.68million patients in England waiting for medical treatment - rising by 100,000 people between June and July

A photo of Daniel Sharpe-Szunko, the author

By Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Published on: 20 September 2023

3 min read

NHS waiting list rises by 100,000 in 1 month

NHS England’s most recently published data is shocking to read. By the end of July 2023, there were more than 7.68million people in England waiting for medical treatment. Not only is this a staggering number of people, but this figure rose by 100,000 between June and July.

1 in 7 people in England will be on a waiting list for NHS medical treatment. On top of this, about 41% of these people will wait over 18 weeks before being seen by a specialist.

It’s unsurprising that many people are now considering private health insurance as a way around long NHS waiting lists. These policies offer a different benefits and levels of cover, and most will allow you to receive treatment far more quickly than on the NHS.

NHS Waiting times statistics

Each area of the UK will have their own targets and figures for NHS treatment waiting times.

We have put together this table to highlight the differences for each country.

CountryMaximum waiting times target (non-urgent referrals)Maximum waiting times target (urgent cancer referrals)
England18 weeks2 weeks from the day your appointment is booked to see a specialist.   62 days (for start of treatment)
Scotland18 weeks (for treatment) 12 weeks for new outpatient appointments62 days (for start of treatment)
Wales26 weeks62 days (for start of treatment)
Northern Ireland13 weeks62 days (for start of treatment)

Note: If you have an NHS operation booked and it is cancelled for non-medical reasons (e.g. staff shortages) you should be given an alternative date for within 28 days. If this does not happen you can submit a complaint using the NHS complaints procedure.

NHS England waiting list figures (July 2023)

Here is a summary of the latest figures published by NHS England and the House of Commons Library.

  • There has been a noticeable increase in the length of NHS waiting lists since 2021
  • In December 2022, the number of patients waiting for more than 4 hours in A&E reached an all-time high (though this has since seen some improvement).
  • Just 54.7% of cancer treatment received treatment within 62 days of being referred by their GP*, falling significantly short of the NHS target of 85%.
  • Between June and July 2023, the NHS waiting list for consultant-led treatments increased by over 100,000 people

*figures from patient cases in January 2023

More information – NHS Key Statistics: England, July 2023

What is private health insurance?

Private health insurance offers you the opportunity to access top quality UK medical care, allowing you to bypass the often lengthy waiting lists in the NHS. It can make a big difference when it comes to getting the care you need promptly.

There are various types of health insurance policy available including:

  • Individual health insurance
  • Family health insurance
  • Business health insurance

Most insurance providers will offer pretty flexible policies, with the option to add or remove various benefits depending on how much you want to spend.

Does health insurance help with NHS waiting times?

One of the main reasons people decide to buy health insurance is to avoid long waiting lists for NHS treatment. With health insurance you can get your referral from your GP and then contact your insurer.

The insurer will then allow you to choose an appropriate specialist for the treatment you need from a pre-approved list (hospital list) or from a short list of recommendations (guided option).

Taking this approach means you have full freedom over when and where you receive your treatment. Some health insurance providers will cover you for treatment in hundreds of UK hospitals.

If you aren’t sure which health insurance provider or policy would be a good option for you, you can speak to a health insurance specialist. An expert will be able to provide qualified advice and guidance on how each policy works and what may be the best fit for your budget.

Note: Always do some research before committing to a new insurance policy to make sure you are happy and comfortable with what you are agreeing to. Luckily, health insurance policies only have 1 year terms in most cases. it’s simple to not renew cover or switch to a new provider if you’re unhappy with your policy – you can also cancel at any point.

Other health insurance guides and news

Here are some more of our recent MPO news articles and guides about the NHS and health insurance.

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign up today for all the best deals and helpful guides. Take control of your finances the MoneyPeople way!