New waiting times figures released today by NHS England show a further deterioration in the waits that patients endure for trauma and orthopaedic surgery. Our specialty has the largest total waiting list and our patients are therefore particularly affected by lengthening waits.

These latest figures reflect the situation at the end of September 2019. They reveal that:

  • 525,801 patients in total in England are waiting for T&O surgery (up from 498,488 in September 2018).
  • It is now 5 years since the waiting time targets were last met for the T&O specialty (in which 92% of patients should commence treatment within 18 weeks of referral).
  • The number of patients waiting over 18 weeks has risen sharply in the last five years and now stands at 90,871 (an increase of 10,000 in one year alone).

During this General Election campaign the British Orthopaedic Association urges all political parties to take notice of the patients waiting in pain and distress for life-changing surgery, and to seek to do far more in the coming Parliament to address this issue.

Don McBride, President of the BOA, comments:

“These ever-growing waiting lists and waiting times cannot be allowed to continue.

"Each of these people awaiting treatment is an individual experiencing pain, limited mobility or other effects on their day to day functions. Many patients suffering with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions are in significant pain, which severely affects their quality of life and their ability to perform the simple activities of daily living. Leaving patients waiting in pain for treatment longer than is clinically necessary is not acceptable. Arthritis is common and often dismissed, but it is life changing, threatening patients’ independence, and their ability to earn a living and care for their loved ones.”


Waiting Times Dec 2019 statement.PNG


Data source: NHSEngland Referral to Treatment data

Finally, we highlight that it is not only in England that problems exist with waiting times. The situation is particularly acute in Northern Ireland, where the latest figures (from June 2019) reveal:

  • 25,167 patients waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, over 11,000 of whom have been waiting over a year.
  • 16,916 patients waiting for an inpatient procedure, of whom nearly 7,000 have been waiting over a year.

Data source: