The latest annual figures for hospital outpatient published by NHS Digital has shown a record number of appointments being cancelled, due to the rising financial and functional strain on NHS hospitals.
Last year hospitals in England cancelled 7.68 million outpatient appointments, nearly 3 times more than that had been cancelled in 2005-06 (2.76 million). Cancellations have also increased over that time as a proportion of all outpatient appointments, from 4.6 per cent in 2005-06, to 6.8 per cent in 2015-16 – which is a 48 per cent jump.
The NHS Digital latest figure confirms that the demand for healthcare has been increased sharply. While there were 60.6m appointments in the year 2005-06, that had almost doubled to 113.3m in 2015-16.
The registrar for the Royal College of Physicians, Andrew Goddard said the increasing rate of outpatient appointments is another sign of NHS hospitals under pressure. Although most of the appointments are rescheduled rather than cancelled. The extra waiting time can cause concern for patients and delay in receiving the right treatment in time.
He further added that the evidence gathered by the Royal College of Physicians denoted that the National Health Service (NHS) was struggling to cope with the rising pressures of healthcare demand and inadequate funding and therefore it required a new budget plan.
Women are more likely to attend outpatient appointments than men. Last year, 51.7 million women attended in comparison to 37.6 million men. There were 186 outpatient visits among women per 100 populations but just 139 for men.
The figures also showed that 5 areas of specialist medical care accounted for 30% of all outpatient appointments in 2015-16. The 5 areas are:
Justin Madders, the shadow health minister called the latest figures ‘shocking’, saying that the government underfunding had stretched the healthcare system to breaking point despite the best efforts of NHS staff.
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