- Recruitment fell by more than 18% to 78.4 million from 2020 to 2021
- Numbers include appointments for CT scans, X-rays, MRIs and pacemaker testing
- 12.6 million appointments canceled by hospitals – highest on record
Around 18 million fewer NHS appointments were made last year, according to official figures, laying bare the real toll of the COVID-induced backlog on the healthcare service.
Before the pandemic struck, about 96 million outpatient appointments such as CT scans, X-rays and MRIs were performed every year.
But the overall figure fell 18 percent in 2020/21, the health service’s own figures revealed today.
Hospitals canceled 12.6 million procedures, the highest toll since health chiefs began collecting data a decade ago.
NHS Digital, which compiled the annual report, acknowledged the trend was due to ‘the impact of the coronavirus pandemic’.
The disruption in healthcare has already seen waiting lists for routine surgeries including hip and knee replacement spirals hit a record high of 5.6 million.
It is expected to climb even further as lakhs of people who came late or were unable to get care during the pandemic will come forward.
Operations, scans and appointments were canceled as the NHS focused on treating Covid patients and many were afraid to go to hospital for fear of catching the virus.
NHS Digital’s figures come as health bosses pleaded for a further £1.5bn funding, just a fortnight after being pushed by No10 through a £12bn tax raid to boost the NHS.
The graph shows: Outpatient appointments in the presence of patients declined by more than 18 percent to 78.4 million in the years 2020 to 2021, from 96.4 million a year earlier.
The graph shows: the number of outpatient appointments and attendance in England from April 2019 to March 2021
The graph shows: 12.6 million appointments canceled by hospitals (dark blue line) – highest on record
London had the highest outpatient activity, with both the highest number of appointments (21.2 million or 20.8 percent) and attendance (15.3 million or 19.5 percent).
Saffron Corddry, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers representing trusts across the country, today called for additional funds to fix crumbling hospitals.
She said the money would ‘bring long-neglected parts of NHS estates into the 21st century’, with the cash being used to fix leaky roofs, broken boilers and faulty air-conditioning units in operating theatres.
Ms Corddry stressed that the red-tape set aside funds are necessary, meaning the tax raids – which won’t affect millions of taxpayers until April – cannot be spent on major maintenance and repairs to infrastructure.
Pandemic sees decline in sterilization and vasectomy on the NHS
New data shows that the pandemic has led to a dramatic drop in the number of women seeking vasectomy and those undergoing vasectomy.
Data from NHS Digital shows the number of sterilizations performed in NHS hospitals in England has fallen from 15,189 in 2010/11 to 12,144 in 2019/20, a drop of 20 per cent.
However, in 2020/21, there was a huge drop of 37 percent for 7,665 sterilizations.
Meanwhile, vasectomy is also declining, with an accelerated decline during the pandemic year.
Before 2015/16, there was a long-term decline in the number of vasectomy performed, with a 43 percent drop between 2010/11 (19,510) and 2014/15 (11,113).
The number then held steady at around 11,000 to 12,000 per year until 2019/20.
This number fell to 4,449 in 2020/21 during the pandemic, which is 63 percent lower than in 2019/20.
Other data on sexual and reproductive health services (SRH), dedicated services provided by the NHS, showed that emergency contraceptive items (usually called the morning-after pill) provided in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20 ) had declined by 45 percent. .
There was also an 18 percent drop in prescribing the morning-after pill in other locations in the community (mainly GP surgeries).
NHS Digital said SRH services saw a “significantly large” decline in 2020/21 compared to previous years, with 44,420 emergency contraception items, 45 per cent lower than in 2019/20 (80,692).
The number of emergency contraceptive prescriptions distributed in the community also fell to 90,068 in 2020, an 18 percent decrease compared to 2019 (110,378).
However, this decade-long decline continues, 64 percent from 252,800 in 2010.
All of this data does not include other places where women can get contraception, including emergency contraception bought over the counter in hospital outpatient clinics and pharmacies.
NHS data shows that as the UK plunged into its first lockdown, the number of outpatient appointments in England dwindled.
From 2019 to 2020 – which included only one week of No. 10’s first shutdown – there were approximately 2.5 million planned outpatient appointments per week with 2 million attendees.
By the beginning of April 2020 – during the first lockdown – weekly appointments (1.3 million) declined by 48 percent and weekly attendance (826,000) by more than 60 percent compared to the previous average.
Appointments only exceeded 1 million per week at the end of December, when Boris Johnson introduced Tier Four restrictions in areas of England.
But the fall in the second lockdown in November was less dramatic.
NHS Digital said: ‘Activity levels improved during 2020-21 but remained below pre-Covid averages at the end of the period.’
The damaging data comes as the prime minister announced a national insurance increase at the beginning of the month to help clear the NHS backlog, saying it would help the healthcare service ‘get back on its feet’.
Healthcare will receive the vast majority of the £36 billion raised by a 1.25 percent national insurance increase over the next three years, with social care receiving a £5.3 billion piece.
This will see people earning £50,000 per year…