NHS waiting list reaches record 5.7million

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The figure was up by around 100,000 on July, but the number waiting over a year fell slightly to 292,000. 

A record 5,025 people endured so-called “trolley waits” of more than 12 hours from a decision to admit to being taken into hospital. 

NHS England said it had 23,000 Covid admissions, 14 times more than last August.

Meanwhile desperate daughter Elaine Harrad told how she called a GP surgery 286 times to book her mother Barbara Shonk, 84, an urgent eye appointment.

But when she was finally contacted by Heron Medical Practice in Herne Bay, Kent, there were no slots left and Mrs Shonk was instead offered a phone consultation.

Elaine took her mother to the local hospital, where she was seen immediately.

She said: “I’m lucky I have a smart telephone and I just press redial. But a lot of elderly people don’t have that. If there’s no one to fight their corner, they will just go under the radar.”

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The practice said it had “a huge increase in demand” because of the backlog caused by Covid and was “sorry” to hear about Mrs Shonk’s ordeal.

Doctors have called for more staff and beds, particularly in intensive care wards, to tackle the backlog.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said although the service was “running hot”, staff had “moved heaven and earth delivering millions more tests, checks, treatments and operations”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday defended his blueprint to boost access to GPs, including a £250million winter access fund.

During a visit to Vale Medical Centre in Forest Hill, south-east London, he said: “We want to support them to do what they do best, which is to see patients, and to see more patients promptly and in a way that the patient chooses.”

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