‘Braced for a torrid winter’: The King’s Fund response to NHS performance figures

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Commenting on the latest hospital activity figures, Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund, said:

‘NHS staff are working hard to restore services and find innovative new ways to care for patients, but as these figures show, there is a mountain to climb before waits for routine NHS care return to pre-pandemic levels. It now seems unlikely that the highly ambitious targets set for the recovery of NHS performance over autumn will be met, and it is important to be honest with patients and the public about how long people are likely to have to wait for care.

‘Covid-19 hospital admissions are rising in some parts of the country, thousands of people need support for long-lasting Covid-19 symptoms, and more than four million people are stuck on waiting lists after some treatments were delayed during the first wave of the virus. More than 110,000 people have been waiting for more than a year, taking us back to levels not seen for a decade. Combine these formidable challenges with the expected annual surge in demand for services and concern about exhausted and overstretched staff, and it is clear why many NHS leaders are braced for a torrid winter.’

‘With the country facing a second wave of the virus, lessons need to be learnt from the initial peak in cases. As the Prime Minister has said, it is vital that cancer treatment and other non-Covid services can continue to provide treatment for patients. Much will therefore depend on whether the government can deliver increased capacity and improvements to the testing system to enable NHS and social care staff to be regularly tested for Covid-19.’