NHS Waiting List Estimate Tool

Learn about Medbelle’s NHS waiting list estimation tool.

NHS Waiting List Estimate Tool

Written by Head of UK Relations, Mr. Simon Harby

Published: Monday 11 December 2023

The waiting list tool

This tool is made of two parts:

To request a report on a specific hospital or region, you submit your email and the information you want to have. After our team compiles the data, you will receive the requested waiting list estimates via email.

Why did Medbelle create this waiting time estimation tool?

This tool began as a planning tool for internal use at Medbelle but we soon realised the potential it could have for patients across the UK.

It is important to know we are not attempting to forecast individual waiting times with this tool. Individual waiting times are dependent on many other factors including the patient's medical history, the condition being treated, the surgeon's treatment plan and hospital capacity.

Now, patients already waiting 2-4 months or longer for their treatment are faced with even longer wait times. In some cases, the wait is now double what it was before COVID-19 restrictions. These extended waiting times pose frustrating uncertainty and potential health risks for patients waiting for surgery.

The goal of this tool is to provide an overview using the best available data which patients can take into account when making decisions like what hospital to choose or treatment options to consider.

Knowing even a broad estimate of when you can expect to have surgery is important to know when preparing things like arranging time away from work, child or pet care, rescheduling holidays, or making lifestyle or diet changes.

We hope releasing this waitlist tool to the public will provide some clarity to their healthcare journeys.

How does Medbelle estimate waiting times?

We used official NHS data from March 2019 to February 2020 to gauge average waiting times and healthcare capacity for a range of surgeries without the impact of COVID-19.

These totals were then adjusted based on projections of COVID-19 restrictions, and waiting list estimates were projected for the coming months.

These calculations are based on a few assumptions:

  • The need for healthcare services and surgery unrelated to COVID-19 will be the same in 2020 as they were in 2019
  • The capacity of hospitals has not changed from 2019 to 2020
  • Every speciality field is impacted by capacity limitations in the same way as every other field

According to our methodology, we estimate well above 7 million patients will be on a waiting list by the end of July 2020. For perspective, there were 4.5 million patients on waiting lists by the end of February 2020, and this was an all-time high.

This number also includes the nearly 1 million patients who had a surgery date scheduled for some time in 2020 before all elective surgeries were postponed. These patients have waited an additional 12 weeks and counting on top of the wait time they had before COVID-19.

We sincerely hope the estimates offered by this tool provide some context to patients as they wait for more information regarding their treatment.

If you have any questions about the waiting list estimation tool or our methodology, please reach out to and we’ll be happy to provide you with more information.

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