SURVEY: As NHS waiting lists soar will patients turn to private healthcare?
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There are nearly 7,000 people in Suffolk and north Essex who have been on their hospital waiting list for treatment for over a year — will they turn to private healthcare instead?
Data from NHS England shows in February 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, there were just 17 people in the region who had been waiting for more than 12 months.
Now, data from February 2021 shows there are 3,267 who have been on the list at West Suffolk Hospital for more than a year, with 3,503 people waiting at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.
When the pandemic initially hit, hospitals stopped all non-essential treatment and this has led to a huge backlog, alongside the burden on the healthcare service from coronavirus patients.
The total waiting list for treatment at West Suffolk has risen by just over 1,000 people to 20,616, while the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) — which runs Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals — has 55,312 people awaiting surgery.
It is thought some patients may be resorting to private healthcare to guarantee treatment without delay — we want to know what you think through our survey.
Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said: “We are immensely proud of how our teams have responded to the coronavirus pandemic in our hospitals and in the community.
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“There’s no doubt that hospital waiting times nationally and locally have increased as a direct result of the NHS pandemic response.
"At ESNEFT we have robust plans in place and we are doing everything we can to tackle this issue, including putting on additional clinics and operating sessions."