The Patients Association is calling for the Government to take action to cut NHS waiting times after research by the body revealed a 6% increase in them last year.
A Freedom of Information request from the association to NHS Acute Trusts in England found that waiting times for a range of elective operations rose by an average of 6% between 2010 and 2011.
The Patients Association says the rise in waits for hip, knee, hernia, gallstone and hysterectomy operations was significant, with waits for knee, hernia and gallstone operations all seeing increases of 10%.
The average wait of having a new knee rose from 88.9 days to 99.2 days, whilst the average wait for hernia surgery increased from 70.4 days to 78.3 days. Waiting times for gallstone removal rose 7.4 days over the same period, and hip replacement patients waited 6.3 days longer.
Experts warned that the trend is leaving thousands of patients in pain awaiting surgery.
In addition, according to data from 93 of England’s 170 acute hospital trusts, the number of operations performed fell by 18,268 between 2010 and 2011, an average fall of 4.6%.
The biggest fall was in cataract removals. Some 175,731 were performed in 2011, which was 14,267 fewer than in 2010 – a fall of 7.5%.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “We hear lots of talk from the Government about waiting times falling but whilst this may be true in other areas, it doesn't address the problem in relation to elective surgical procedures.”
“There needs to be transparency about waiting times for particular procedures, and problem areas need to be tackled.”
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “There are fewer patients than ever waiting a long time for treatment. The number of people waiting over a year for treatment has reduced by two-thirds since we came into office and the average time patients have to wait for treatment is at the same level as two years ago.”
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