The waiting list for planned hospital care continues to climb: The King's Fund responds to the latest NHS hospital performance data

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Commenting on the latest monthly NHS hospital performance data and the Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC) data for 2020–21, Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund, said:

‘Today’s figures show the NHS is fighting battles on multiple fronts. The waiting list for planned hospital care continues to climb towards levels not seen since the waiting times crisis in the 1990s, with the number of people on the list now reaching 5.7 million and almost 10,000 people waiting more than two years. 

‘With the full impact of winter still to come we are already seeing record lows in A&E performance. Despite a target to see 95 per cent of people within four hours, a quarter of patients are waiting longer than that. 

‘After years of under-investment, the cost of tackling the backlog of maintenance issues with NHS buildings and equipment now stands at more than £9.2 billion, a substantial proportion of which need urgent action to avoid harm to staff and patients. 

‘The government has announced significant, additional funding to support NHS services, but hasn’t yet delivered on promises to increase capital investment in buildings and equipment or provided the funding required to train and develop the staff needed to address chronic workforce shortages. The Spending Review later this month is the opportunity to put that right, or risk undermining efforts to reduce the waiting list backlog, modernise services and deliver the government’s manifesto commitments.’ 

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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.