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NHS referral to treatment (RTT) waiting lists 2022

NHS England has just released the latest statistics on referral to treatment (RTT) waiting times across England. Despite the best efforts of the NHS and its private sector partners, the UK Gov’s 18-week standard is still not being met.

The 18 week standard sets out the ambitious aim that 92% of patients should receive the elective care treatment they require, no more than 18 weeks after being referred by their GP.

However, despite redoubling their efforts, NHS services are still experiencing rising backlogs in consultant-led elective care services, which does not align with government objectives to accelerate the restoration of elective and cancer care.

As at January 2022, there were still 6.1 million patients waiting for elective care services. This compares to 5.8 million in October 2021, so represents a significant increase in the number of people waiting for the care they need. What’s more, the latest figures reveal that only 62.5% of patients are being seen within the 18-week RTT target. This has fallen from 66.5% in the previous period.

The combined effects of the pandemic, staff shortages and winter pressures has placed the NHS under increasing pressure, despite sustained efforts to improve efficiency and provide patients with the care that they need. Thankfully, the burden placed on healthcare services from these pressures is beginning to abate, making it possible for the NHS to make some headway towards reducing RTT figures and waiting lists in general.


However, the NHS remains fragile, and highly susceptible to the fluctuating demands of an ageing population. As a result of record waiting lists for elective care, there has been considerable deterioration in the condition of many patients. This has contributed to an elective care backlog of patients with serious and complex needs. In addition, new patients continue to be referred for elective care services – in the month of January 2022 alone, 1,513,035 patients started a new RTT pathway – adding to waiting lists at a much faster rate than even the most competent, accomplished NHS Trust is able to reduce them.

Fortunately, the UK Gov remains committed to reducing waiting lists, improving the patient experience and offering greater autonomy to service users, and has provided significant additional funding in order to achieve these goals. As laid out in NHS England’s latest Priorities and Operational Planning Guidance, Trusts are being encouraged to: “work closely with independent sector providers to maximise the capacity and services available…including for cancer”.

In order to address this backlog and make significant inroads towards the 92% RTT standard, the NHS must continue its collaboration with the private sector. The UK Gov has already acknowledged the need for additional funding to support public-private partnerships, so that the NHS can achieve the targets which have been laid down for them. This is the only viable solution for making the most effective use of NHS facilities, protecting the existing workforce and building a more efficient, resilient public health service.

How Medinet can help

At Medinet, our priority is to reduce waiting times for people who are patiently waiting for care.

We are helping the NHS to achieve this by providing dedicated clinical care teams working across a range of specialities, to support overstretched NHS Trusts.

Whether you are looking for additional support 7 days a week, during evenings or weekends, we’ll utilise your facilities to help make substantial improvements to waiting lists, fast.

Our elective care services:

  • Meet regulatory standards
  • Prioritise patient safety
  • Guarantee improved clinical outcomes.

Get in touch

Contact us and speak to someone about how we can help reduce waiting lists and improve outcomes for patients. Our solutions are tailor-made to fit in with your existing workflows, whilst making a big impact.

How can we help you?

Contact us for your tailormade solution