Responding to the latest NHS performance statistics, Danielle Jefferies, Senior Analyst at The King’s Fund, said:
‘This winter will be bleak for the NHS, particularly if we see high levels of flu and Covid-19 in the coming weeks. Today’s figures show already more than 42% people are waiting longer than the target of four hours to be seen in A&E which is far from the performance standards patients would expect, and people are waiting, on average, nearly 42 minutes for an ambulance for urgent cases when the target is 18 minutes.
‘Today’s figures also show that the waiting list for elective care now stands at a record high of 7.8 million made up of 6.5 million unique patients waiting for care. Underneath the headline figures, we know some communities are facing longer waits for care. Analysis by The King’s Fund published this week shows that progress to tackle inequalities in the elective backlog is slow. To achieve its ambition of tackling backlogs in an inclusive way, the government needs to set a clear vision on why inclusive recovery is important for delivering better and fairer services for patients and the public.
‘Yesterday’s announcement of a financial package to help offset some of the impact of industrial action will not be enough for the NHS to do everything it would wish this winter to give patients the care that they expect and deserve. The upcoming Autumn Statement will be a real test to see how far politicians are willing to go to prevent the deep crises in the NHS from getting worse. If the purse strings are held too tightly, health care leaders may have to abandon their plans to install additional beds, hire more staff and bring in support from voluntary sector organisations – measures the NHS traditionally uses to get through seasonal pressures.
‘To get the sector back on track in the longer term and break the cycle of ‘bad’ winters, bold action by government and national leaders will be necessary. This includes action to make health and care a more attractive career, bolstering out-of-hospital care such as primary, community and social care services, and helping people live healthier lives through a focus on prevention.’
Notes to editors
Read The King’s Fund’s new report, funded by the Health Foundation: Health inequalities on NHS waiting lists | The King's Fund (kingsfund.org.uk)
For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585.
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.