More than 1,500 patients have been waiting for their operations for more than a year
THE number of patients waiting for NHS ops has topped four million for the first time in a decade, official figures show.
Those on the list for longer than the 18-week target has surged by a fifth in a year.
Numbers waiting at least six months are up by a third — while 1,544 have been on the list for more than 12 months. The overall total is the highest since August 2007 — when the 18-week limit came in to help cut wait times.
Many of the patients will be in crippling pain as they wait for the likes of hip and knee replacements and hernia repairs.
Simon Stevens, boss of NHS England, warned in March that patients will face longer waits for operations in a “trade-off” for improved care in other areas.
He said growing pressures meant he could no longer guarantee timely treatment.
But Prof Derek Alderson, from the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “These statistics should act as a wake-up call. This is the impact of an NHS under severe pressure. The waiting list will only get worse unless action is taken.”