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The Royal Devon and Exeter Trust: all the key numbers for the NHS Trust in April

Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust in April, figures show.

The Society for Acute Medicine said the current picture across the NHS in England – where 6.5 million people are waiting to start treatment – is “unacceptable and unsustainable” for patients and staff.

NHS England figures show 83,271 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust at the end of April – up from 63,288 in March, and 56,600 in April 2021.

Of those, 7,645 (9%) had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust was 17 weeks at the end of April – down from 18 weeks in March.

Nationally, 6.5 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of April.

Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the SAM, said the healthcare workforce and its capacity are currently the key issues facing the NHS, but that the latest figures show there is no easy solution.

He added: “The current experience for patients with long waits for both emergency and elective care is intolerable and this is causing significant morale injury to clinical and operational staff in NHS and social care who wish to provide high quality care for patients.

“The current situation is unacceptable and unsustainable for patients and staff.

“It is essential that the Government urgently commits itself to the long-term solutions.”

Some 12,735 people were waiting more than two years for hospital treatment at the end of April – nearly five times the number waiting in April last year, but down from a record 23,778 in January.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England said this shows “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Tim Mitchell, vice president of the organisation, said: “Surgical teams have been working around the clock to reduce the enormous waiting list which built up during the pandemic.

“However, there are still big challenges ahead. As people return to the NHS, demand is only getting stronger.”

The Government has set the ambition to eliminate all waits of more than two years, except when it is the patient’s choice, by July of this year.

Separate figures show 1.5 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in April – a fall from 1.6 million in March.

At the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust, 15,151 patients were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 7,221 (48%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures show cancer patients at the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust are not being seen quickly enough.

The NHS states 85% of cancer patients urgently referred by a GP should start treatment within 62 days.

But NHS England data shows just 61% of patients urgently referred by the NHS who received cancer treatment at the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust in April began treatment within two months of their referral.

That was down from both 77%in March, and 68% in April 2021 last year.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said the NHS still faces pressures, but added: “Hard-working NHS staff are making significant progress in ensuring people waiting the longest time for care are getting treated.”

A spokesman added: “Good progress is being made on cutting waiting times with a two thirds reduction in the number of patients waiting longest for treatment since February.”

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