The King's Fund responds to the latest monthly NHS hospital performance data

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Commenting on the latest monthly NHS hospital performance data, Danielle Jefferies, Analyst at The King’s Fund said:

‘In recent months the government has focused on tackling the backlogs for planned hospital care and diagnostic tests that have been exacerbated by Covid-19. But today’s performance data show pressures now reaching unacceptable levels in all parts of the health and care system.

‘A&E departments remain full of patients in need of urgent care, and separate data shows a similar story in general practice and social care. In March, 22,500 people waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to hospital from A&E – a more than 30-fold increase compared to a year ago. Today’s data also show ambulance service response times for serious health conditions are falling far below the national standards, with patients waiting over an hour for an emergency ambulance.

‘The common link between the unrelenting pressure across all parts of the NHS and social care is a chronic shortage of staff. While staff absence due to Covid-19 is an immediate and serious pressure for health and care services, the workforce crisis predates the pandemic. Just 1 in 4 NHS employees now feels there are enough staff in their organisation for them to do their job properly1, and the public now cite workforce shortages as the second most common reason for dissatisfaction with the NHS2.  Despite this, the government has repeatedly resisted calls to regularly publish workforce projections to make clear how many staff are needed and the government’s plan to meet the necessary staffing requirements3. Until the government grasps the nettle on health and care staffing shortages it will be patients and the public who ultimately pay the price through longer waits and poorer care.’

Notes to editors

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  1. The 2021 NHS Staff Survey results were published on 30 March 2022 and are available from the NHS Staff Survey website
  2. Analysis by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust of British Social Attitudes survey of public satisfaction with the NHS in 2021 shows that public satisfaction with the NHS is at a 25-year low. The main reason for dissatisfaction with the NHS overall was waiting times for GP and hospital appointments (65 per cent) followed by staff shortages (46 per cent) and a view that the government does not spend enough money on the NHS (40 per cent). Explore the full findings
  3. During the parliamentary passage of the Health and Care Bill, the government has blocked efforts to require the regular publication of health and care workforce projections to make clear how many staff are needed. More information is available in The King’s Fund’s latest briefing on the Health and Care Bill. 

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.