A new Healthwatch England survey of 1,000 adults on NHS waiting lists shows that a poorer experience of waiting can be linked to factors such as wealth, disability, level of education, gender or ethnicity.
The survey found people from poorer households has been hit hardest when it comes to how long they wait for treatment and the impact this has on their mental health and wellbeing and ability to work.
The poll suggests there are ethnic differences when it comes to how easy people find to get hospital treatment. When combined with factors, such as wealth and education, the disparities are far starker. Over half of ethnic minority respondents (57%) faced a delay to or cancellation of hospital treatment compared to 42% of white British respondents. Ethnic minority respondents from lower income households were hit hardest by having to wait longer for care. These individuals were almost twice as likely to report having faced a delay to or a cancellation of their treatment compared to white British respondents with higher wealth (63% vs 38%).
The poll also suggests that disabled people have had a worse experience of waiting for treatment than those who identified as non-disabled. Out of 20% of respondents who identified themselves as disabled, two-thirds (66%) waited more than four months for treatment, compared to 44% of those who are identified as non-disabled.
Long waits also affect disabled people more than non-disabled people. More women are also likely to experience adverse impacts of long waits compared to men.