The King's Fund response to the latest NHS England monthly statistics

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Richard Murray, Director of Policy for The King’s Fund, said:

‘The proportion of people waiting more than four hours in A&E is the highest on record, and this shows that pressure on A&Es in February was the worst it has been for well over a decade. While we have seen bad winter months in previous years, this winter has proved exceptional in that we have seen three awful months in a row. The impact on the patients and staff involved cannot be overstated – NHS staff have been working under intense pressure for a long period, and many thousands of patients have had to endure long waits for treatment.

‘For the second month in a row, the number of patients waiting more than four hours after a decision to admit them to hospital from A&E is the highest on record for this time of year. At the same time, the number of people waiting more than 52 weeks for treatment has risen to the highest level since 2012. This underlines the need for the NHS to ensure that those not treated within the time limits do not experience long delays before they are treated.

‘Coming in the midst of the longest funding squeeze in the history of the NHS and growing staffing shortages, the crisis we are seeing in our A&Es was sadly predictable. Unless the government finds significantly more money for the NHS, we face an inexorable drift back to the long waiting times we saw in the 1990s. The NHS cannot continue to rely on the motivation and goodwill of staff to paper over the cracks.

‘There is more bad news in the weekly data, which shows no let-up in the pressure on hospitals as bed occupancy levels were still very high heading into March.’

Notes to editors

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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.