A quarter of those aged 60-plus have worried about their physical health worsening as they have been forced to wait. As many as 16 percent have had an appointment postponed two or more times, according to a new survey. Of those who had their appointment, test or operation cancelled, three in 10 were given less than 24 hours’ notice, with 16 percent cancelled on the day.
Some 73 percent then had to wait an average of 10½ weeks for it to be rescheduled, with two in 10 waiting over 16 weeks.
And the delays and cancellations caused three in 10 over 60 year olds to feel “stressed” and “anxious”, according to the not-for-profit healthcare group Nuffield Health.
Latest NHS figures show that overall almost nine million patients in 2017-18 saw hospital appointments and operations cancelled, almost triple that a decade ago.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has vowed to “fundamentally overhaul” the system to tackle the failings and spare patients distress and harm. At some hospitals, up to one in every four outpatients’ appointments is being cancelled with people in the South-east and South-west most likely to suffer.
It means that patients – many elderly – who have been referred for specialist hospital care are being left facing longer waits for diagnoses and assessments. With one in 10 people aged 65-85 also providing care to others, the impact is also felt by the people they care for too.
This uncertainty adds an additional burden to their health condition, experts say.
Due to the delays and cancellations, a quarter of over 60s could not commit to plans for retirement, Nuffield’s survey found. Some 22 percent want to renovate their house, 20 percent plan to volunteer with 11 percent planning a train journey through Europe.
Jonathan Davies, former Wales rugby international, had a hip operation aged 51. He said: “I’d urge everyone to explore the options available for treatment so you’re not hampered by health at a time in life when you should be making the most of it.”
Chris Blackwell-Frost, of Nuffield Health, said, “For those that are looking for an alternative way to deal with their health problems, our hospitals have no waiting lists.”
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