Elective procedures could be cancelled in January but how has the NHS in your area coped so far?

With the cancellation of elective procedures hitting the headlines we take a look at how the size and length of waiting lists is changing over time.

The extent to which procedures are cancelled over January won’t be known for a month or two but understanding how well providers are coping in the run up to winter may give us some pointers as to how they will cope over the coming months.

Using our unique analytical tool VVSS Online we allow you to see how your local provider is managing waiting lists from two different perspectives:

  • How is the size of the waiting list for procedures changing over time? Growing or falling?
  • How is the shape of the waiting list changing over time? Are more people waiting beyond the 18 week target due to increases in the overall waiting list, or is it simply that a greater proportion patients in a stable waiting list are waiting longer?

The visualisations below show us a number of things but critically they show trends to provide some context to the debate. The charts show:

  1. The size of the waiting list for elective procedures at the national and provider level and at specialty level,
  2. The amount of that waiting list that has waited for more than 18 weeks for their procedure again at national, provider and specialty level and
  3. How long patients are waiting for procedures by the number of weeks they have waited.

The first visualisation shows the national picture illustrating monthly trends since April 2016.

Currently there are 3.7m patients waiting for procedures with around 400k waiting more than 18 weeks. Interestingly this number has reduced from 3.9m three four months ago and 18+ week waits are some 15,000 less in November than October.


The second visualisation shows this same image for the orthopaedic specialty in an anonymous trust.


As you can see the is a big difference in the graph at this much more granular level. Our tools will help you to explore this and other trends at a local and specialty level.

This next graph shows how the distribution of patients according to how many weeks they have waited. Whilst the high level metric is how many patients have waited over 18 weeks the number of weeks waited in total by patients is an important measure of the efficacy with which the list is being managed.

Wait profile

Clicking on the chart will take you to the interactive tool from which again, we see the local picture is much more varied and nuanced than we see in the national picture and it is reasonable to give credit to the systems who have focussed their efforts on doing as much as they possibly could to reduce waiting times prior to what they knew was a challenging winter period.

You can access our visualisations in interactive forms by clicking on them. You will be taken to our public resource site where you can freely manipulate the interactive visualisation to get the view most relevant to you for both the monthly trend and snapshot visualisations.




The VVSS Online Team