This week’s news round-up includes reports that the number of people waiting more than six months to have their operations has increased by 40% in just one year.
Elsewhere, dementia has become the nation’s biggest killer, taking over from heart disease for the first time. This week’s article concludes with promising news regarding an A&E department designed specifically for patients over the age of 80.
Waiting time for Operations increase
The number of people waiting six months or longer for operations in NHS hospitals has risen by 40% in just one year, according to official figures. The concerning figures regarding operations comes after the head of the health service warned that a record five million people are set to be left languishing on waiting lists unless the NHS receives more funding in the budget.
The figures revealed that 151,170 patients waited at least six months for their operations in September of this year, compared to 108,463 people 12 months earlier. The number of patients waiting more than a year for their operations also rose by 50%, with 1778 examples.
The official NHS targets state that 92% of patients should be seen within 18 weeks, however this has not been met for the last 18 months. These newly-released figures show that the number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for their operations increased by 20% in the last 12 months.
Professor Derek Alderson, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said on The Telegraph:
“With 40 per cent more patients waiting over six months for surgery than this time last year, it is clear that the NHS is under mounting pressure. Waiting several months for treatment could have a serious impact on a patient’s quality of life and the effectiveness of their eventual surgery.”
To try and reduce the waiting times for operations, Simon Stevens (Head of the NHS) has set out his case for a £4billion cash injection in 2018. Without extra funding, he claims that one in 10 people will be stuck on a waiting list by 2021.
Dementia is now Britain’s biggest killer
Dementia has taken over from heart disease as the UK’s biggest killer. New figures have shown that 70,366 people died from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia last year, compared to around 66,076 deaths from heart disease.
In 2015, heart disease was the biggest killer with 69,785 deaths compared to the 69,182 people passing away from dementia. It has been suggested that the switch has been driven by the UK’s aging population, as well as the improvements in heart health.
Charities are now calling for the government to double its annual £132 million dementia research funding over the next five years. Current projections have suggested that around 1.2 million people will be living with dementia by 2040.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, told The Telegraph:
“These startling figures emphasise the health crisis we face in the UK at the hands of dementia. Year-on-year, we are seeing more people conquer and survive serious health conditions like heart disease, but deaths from dementia continue to rise. The fact that there are currently no treatments to slow or stop the diseases behind dementia brings into sharp focus the scale of the challenge and the urgency with which we must tackle it. Dementia may be the biggest killer in the UK today, but research has the power to stop this from being the case in the future.”
Over 80’s specialist A&E department to open
The first A&E department designed specifically for patients over the age of 80 is due to be set-up next month. The new department is being created at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and will see elderly patients being taken straight to this specialist area of the hospital once they arrive.
It is claimed that the dedicated service will make a huge difference, due to the number of elderly patients the hospital’s A&E department current receives. On average, the their A&E department has 350 people come through its doors each day, 50 of which are aged over 80-years-old.
The department will be run by a team of emergency doctors, geriatricians and specialist nurses who will provide care for the elderly patients. It is hoped that this service will become the first of many across the country, with the population continuing to age.
There were 571,245 people aged 90 and over living in the UK in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics. This is more than ever before in our nation’s history.