NHS waiting times for elective and cancer treatment

This report examines waiting time standards for elective and cancer treatment and factors associated with performance in meeting these standards | National Audit Office


This review presents data on the NHS’s performance against current waiting times standards for elective and cancer care in England, and some of the factors associated with that performance. It draws together existing evidence and analysis by the Department, NHS England, NHS Improvement and other stakeholders. The National Audit Office builds on this evidence base with it’s own analysis to provide added insight into:

  • changes in waiting times performance, and variations in that performance;
  • the impact of waiting times performance on patients;
  • the factors that influence waiting times performance; and
  • NHS England’s and NHS Improvement’s approach to managing and improving waiting times performance.

The report concludes that while increased demand and funding constraints affect the entire system, other factors are linked with differences in performance both over time and across trusts. These include staff shortages for diagnostic services, a lack of available beds, inefficient processes and, in some cases, patient choices. The report calls for significant investment in staffing and infrastructure to meet new commitments outlined in the new NHS Long Term Plan.

See also: NHS must focus on routine care to tackle growing waiting lists, says spending watchdog | BMJ

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