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Press release

Next PM will inherit health system in 'state of steady crisis'

Commenting on the latest NHS performance figures published this morning, Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:

‘Despite record high temperatures outside, today’s NHS figures are more like those of a health service stuck in the depths of a particularly dire winter. In July this year, nearly 30,000 emergency patients waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to hospital, a huge increase from the pre-pandemic level of just 450 in July 2019.

‘The intense pressure on NHS and social care services has barely featured in the Conservative party leadership race, yet the new Prime Minister will inherit a health and care system in a state of steady crisis. Not long after Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak enters 10 Downing Street, winter will really start to bite and without urgent action we can expect ambulance delays to get even longer and more and more people to be stuck waiting in overcrowded A&E departments.

‘The pressure on hospitals is symptomatic of pressure right across the health and care system. At the end of July, 13,014 people were still in hospital beds despite being medically fit to be discharged, often due to a lack of available social care support. The challenges affecting the NHS cannot be solved without addressing the issues in social care.

‘Amid these dire statistics, there is a faint glimmer of light. Thanks to the efforts of NHS staff, two-year waits for planned NHS care have been virtually eradicated and efforts will now be focused on hitting the April 2023 target of no patient waiting more than 18 months for care. However, this next phase will be much tougher, with just nine months to reduce the number of people waiting 18 months for planned NHS care from 53,911 down to zero.

‘Ensuring patients can access the care they need will require urgent and sustained action. If the next Prime Minister fails to prioritise action to shore up health and care services, they can expect the NHS and social care to slide even deeper into crisis.’

Notes to editors

For interview requests, please contact The King’s Fund press office on 07584 146035 (does not receive texts) or [email protected]

The NHS performance statistics are available on the NHS England website:
•    consultant-led referral-to-treatment waiting times 
•    A&E attendances and emergency admissions 
•    ambulance quality indicators

Richard Murray has recently blogged about the solutions to the challenges facing health and care:  The health and care system is in crisis: what should (and shouldn't) be done?

Amid the health and care crisis, some old (and some new) myths have surfaced. In a new mythbuster, The King’s Fund debunks the following claims.
•    The NHS is a bottomless pit
•    The NHS is inefficient
•    GPs aren't working hard enough to meet demand for appointments
•    The government has 'fixed' social care
•    The NHS is being privatised

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585 (if calling out of hours, please ring 07584 146035).

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.