'The impact of Covid-19 on waiting times for NHS patients will be felt for years to come': The King's Fund responds to latest NHS performance statistics

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Responding to the latest NHS performance statistics, David Maguire, Senior Analyst at The King’s Fund, said:

‘Today’s statistics suggest that the backlog for care is worse than expected, and the 162,000 people waiting more than a year for care are only the tip of the iceberg. There have been just under 4 million fewer referrals for hospital care since March this year compared to the same time last year, with more patients having their conditions managed by their GP or in the community. We don’t know how many more people will need urgent or routine care next year as a result, but this can only add to the considerable backlog of 4.4 million people waiting for care. 

‘The NHS went into Covid-19 with a workforce crisis and rising waits for care. Even with the positive news of a vaccine, the impact of Covid-19 on waiting times for NHS patients will be felt for years to come. Despite the best efforts of hard-working staff, there simply isn’t the capacity to get through the backlog quickly. With current staffing levels it will be a challenge just to keep up with demand, let alone reduce the backlog.’

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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.