An important issue in understanding trends in waiting times – and what may be influencing changes since June – is seasonal variations. Hospital activity, for example, has long shown peaks and troughs at certain times of the year – most notably at holiday (troughs) and post holiday (peaks) periods, especially in December/January and also at Easter and in August/September. John Appleby explores seasonal factors for the 18-week referral to treatment waiting times trends in our blog
The latest 18 week referral to treatment waiting times data for October are shown in the figures below.
Patients still on waiting lists waiting for more than 18 weeks
Patients treated in outpatients who waited more than 18 weeks
Patients admitted as inpatients who waited more than 18 weeks
What does this tell us?
In summary, while there is a noticeable seasonal factor driving changes in median waiting times for all three aspects of waiting, the seasonal effect is weaker in terms of the proportion of patients waiting more than 18 weeks.
As subsequent waiting times data are published we will update our analysis to see if seasonal effects continue to be an important factor in changes to median waiting times, and whether they continue to play a relatively small role in explaining changes in the proportion of patients waiting more than 18 weeks.
Source: All graphs adapted from Department of Health: Referral to Treatment Waiting Times Statistics