The NHS has a “hidden waiting list” of 15.3 million patients who need follow-up appointments for health problems, according to the first analysis of its kind.
The official waiting list, which stands at 3.9 million, shows how many patients are yet to have their first hospital appointment after a GP referral.
However, the total number who are on hospital books in England and need appointments is not collated centrally. A new calculation, based on freedom of information requests to NHS trusts and seen by The Times, puts the figure at 15.3 million.
Although the official waiting list, after initial referral by a GP, has remained at a fairly stable level throughout the pandemic, this has been mainly driven by fewer patients joining it.