Waiting list for diagnostic tests reaches 1.6 million – up 50% since 2019

  • The waiting list for diagnostic tests has risen by 525,000 since June 2019 to 1.6 million
  • NHS target: less than 1% of people should be waiting more than 6 weeks for these tests – currently 1 in 4 wait 6 weeks or longer
  • Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey calls for an expansion of community diagnostic centres and the legal right to see your GP in seven days as his party makes fixing the NHS a pillar of their conference

NHS waiting lists for basic diagnostic tests have grown by 50% since June 2019, up to 1.6 million. The research from the House of Commons Library, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, also shows that over 25% of people are waiting more than 6 weeks for one of these tests, the NHS target is less than 1%.

The 15 types of tests that make up the list provided by the Commons Library include MRIs, CT scans, Echocardiography, and DEXA scans. For MRIs the waiting list has spiked by a third up to 280,000 thousand. For CT scans, it has shot up by 40,000 to 180,000.

A separate FOI from the Liberal Democrats to NHS Trusts has revealed the longest wait time for certain standard diagnostic scans.

In Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trusts response, they said that the longest wait for an MRI which took place in the past 12 months was 914 days. At the same Trust, someone waited 367 days for a CT scan, 665 days for a non-urgent x-ray, and 693 days for an Ultrasound.

For an Echocardiogram, someone at Wye Valley Trust waited 49 weeks. For an Angiography, at Milton Keynes Trust the longest wait was 475 days.

The proportion of people waiting over six weeks for a diagnostic test is well above the NHS target of less than 1%. Currently it sits at 25.5%, over 25-times higher than the target. The percentage of people waiting more than six weeks has also spiked since 2019, from 3.8% in June 2019, to 25.5% currently, a near seven-fold increase.

For audiology assessments, currently over 35.5% of people are waiting more than 6 weeks for a test, up from 1.4% in June 2019. Electrophysiology exams now have 35.9% waiting more than 6 weeks, much higher than the 1.6% in June 2019.

The region with the highest waiting list is currently the Midlands with over 330,000 hundred thousand people on a waiting list for a diagnostic test. This is followed by the South East and the North East and Yorkshire with more than 250,000 and 230,000 waiting respectively. The Midlands also had the highest proportion of people waiting more than 6 weeks for a test with 31.5%.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an expansion of community diagnostic centres to bring services closer to where people live and ensure they can be seen far quicker.

The party is also calling for the right for everyone to see their GP in seven days by increasing the number of appointments and the number of GPs by 8,000. The Lib Dems have also called for investment in new hospital equipment to ensure that patients get the first-class treatment that they deserve.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

What this Conservative government has done to the NHS is nothing short of a national scandal. Millions are forced to wait in pain and discomfort, anxiously wondering when they will get a diagnosis, let alone treatment.

We cannot fix our economy without fixing our NHS. People can’t get back to work when they’re stuck waiting to see a GP, get a diagnosis or start treatment. The longer they wait, the worse their health gets and the greater the stress for themselves and their loved ones.

Ministers are missing in action in this NHS crisis, and it’s patients who are suffering. We need urgent action to get on top of this mess and end these appalling delays.

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This entry was posted in News and Press releases.

One Comment

  • Ruth Bright 26th Sep '23 - 8:19am

    I currently have a case going through the Health Ombudsman. They do not even consider cases about waiting times even though a patient might be injured by that wait.

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