Poll reveals inequalities of NHS waiting lists

Factors like gender, income and ethnicity are linked to longer waiting times, according to Healthwatch England.
Three women standing outside a hospital talking

People on low incomes are having a worse experience on NHS waiting lists, according to new research by our national body.

Healthwatch England (HWE) also found other factors such as gender and ethnicity impacted on people’s experience.

Key findings

The poll of 1,000 adults waiting for NHS operations or treatment, found:

  • 54% of respondents from lower income households waited four months or more for treatment, compared to 34% of higher income respondents
  • 52% of low-income people said long waits affected their mental health, compared to 28% of people on higher incomes
  • 57% of ethnic minority respondents faced a delay to, or cancellation of, hospital treatment compared to 42% of white British respondents
  • 66% of respondents who said they had a disability, waited more than four months for treatment, compared to 44% of non-disabled people
  • 54% of women were more likely to wait over four months for NHS treatment, compared to 42% of men

HWE national director Louise Ansari said: “We need a greater understanding of people’s individual experiences to focus support in the right places at the right time.”

She added: “People know the NHS is working hard to get to them as soon as possible, and the Government has invested extra money, but it’s how we manage the backlog that matters.”  

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