If the government fails to invest in the NHS workforce, waiting times of over a year could be all too common by the next election

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

‘Today’s figures show that the NHS is still open, with staff working hard to meet the health and care needs of people with and without Covid-19. However, as pressures mount, it’s already clear that hospitals are having to prioritise the sickest patients and once again delay some planned procedures.

‘With nearly 140,000 people now waiting more than a year for care and the worst of winter yet to come, it’s clear the NHS won’t be back to “normal” any time soon. Even before the pandemic, waiting times were slipping as the NHS faced a workforce crisis, with more than 40,000 nursing posts vacant. For the NHS to have any chance of substantially reducing waiting times for patients before the end of this parliament, it will need significant long-term investment to grow and support its workforce in line with the government’s manifesto commitments to increase the number of doctors, nurses and other staff.

‘The upcoming Spending Review is an opportunity for the government to show that it is serious about addressing NHS workforce shortages. If it fails to invest now, these commitments will be in jeopardy and patients will face long delays accessing care, with waiting times of over a year all too common by the next election.’

Notes to editors

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 07584 146035 or mediaoffice@kingsfund.org.uk.

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.