The King's Fund responds to latest A&E performance statistics

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Commenting on the new performance statistics published today by NHS England, John Appleby, Chief Economist at The King’s Fund, said:

'Today’s figures show the NHS struggling to meet many of its key performance targets in the face of rising demand and huge financial pressures. At a time of year when we should be seeing performance figures starting to fall back in line with targets, instead we see a worrying picture of the extreme pressure hospitals are under.

'The figures highlight a sharp rise of 25% in the number of people waiting to be discharged from hospital compared to this time last year. While this reflects a significant increase in the number of patients waiting for social care support, the majority of delays are caused by NHS related problems. As the National Audit Office reported last week delayed discharges are costing the NHS in excess of £800 million a year but more importantly impose a significant human cost on patients and their families.

'A&E departments continue to breach the maximum four hour wait. And though the number of patients waiting over 4 hours to be admitted to hospital from emergency departments (so-called ‘trolley waits’) has fallen compared to March (as expected at this time of year), this year’s April figure is 38 per cent higher than a year ago. There are also 3.8 million people waiting for an operation, the highest since 2007, the key cancer target – 62 days from GP referral to first treatment – continues to be missed and the proportion of patients still waiting for a planned hospital admission after 18 weeks also remains above target.'

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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 care is available to all.