ONS: 21% of all adults in the UK are waiting for medical care

Today, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data has revealed that 9.7mn (21% of all adults in the UK) are currently waiting for a hospital appointment, test, or to begin medical treatment via the NHS.

Related topics:  ONS,  NHS
Tabitha Lambie | Editor, Protection Reporter
3rd April 2024
NHS delays
"It's clear that the crisis in the NHS cannot be resolved overnight, so we expect demand and innovation in this market to continue growing."
- Brett Hill, Head of Health & Protection at Broadstone

As of today, the NHS England waiting list consists of 7.6mn adults, with 6.3mn individuals waiting for treatment and 1m patients appearing on the waiting list more than once. Notably, 1.4mn adults have been waiting over a year for medical care.

These findings suggest that the actual figure of people currently waiting to access treatment via the NHS could be as much as 50% higher than reported by official waiting list data.

Meanwhile, of those that’ve tried to get GP appointments in the last month, 5.5mn (31%) adults said it was difficult or very difficult. Of those who managed to make contact, 1.9mn (12%) said they weren’t given an appointment for over two weeks, and 3.5mn (20%) said their GP experience was poor or very poor.

“While NHS waiting lists and difficulties accessing GP services aren’t new, this latest dataset re-iterates the huge pressures currently impacting healthcare in this country. Of particular concern is the wide gap between the data reported in NHS waiting lists and the findings of the ONS survey,” said Brett Hill, Head of Health & Protection at Broadstone. He believes this gap suggests the proportion of adults in the UK now waiting for medical treatment or advice is far higher than previously understood.

“With 21% of adults in the UK waiting to access healthcare, it highlights the huge problems for businesses when it comes to supporting the health of their employees and reducing sickness absence – an increasingly important C-suite issue,” he added.  

Consequently, there’s been a record number of private healthcare admissions in the last twelve months (driven by insurance solutions) so employers can step into the healthcare gap and support staff during periods of ill-health or injury. Similarly, employers are increasingly focused on prevention and health screenings to identify risk factors or medical conditions at an earlier stage.

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