‘It is clear that the road to recovery will not be a smooth one for NHS services’ : The King’s Fund responds to the latest NHS hospital performance data

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Commenting on the latest monthly NHS performance data and weekly hospital situation report, Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund, said: 

‘With the NHS now in the thick of one of the most uniquely challenging periods in its history, unacceptably long waits for hospital care are becoming increasingly commonplace. Today’s data shows that performance against the waiting-time target for A&Es stands at a record low of only 73 per cent of patients seen within four hours, with no NHS organisations with major A&E departments achieving the national performance target. The waiting list for planned care stands at nearly 6 million and continues to grow. We must remember these are not just big numbers – they are people living with pain and anxiety while they wait for months and, in some cases, more than two years for treatment. 

‘The latest data also shows a significant increase in staff absences due to the Omicron variant, which is exacerbating staff shortages that were endemic before the pandemic. While the government has provided more funding for health and care services, it has failed to deliver a national plan to address the workforce crisis. Without this plan, efforts to tackle the backlog will be hamstrung and patients will be left waiting longer for the care they need.

‘It is clear that the road to recovery will not be a smooth one for NHS services that will need to balance the challenges of Covid-19 and the rising backlog of care for some time yet. Service leaders and politicians should be upfront with patients and the public about this.’

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.