The King's Fund responds to the latest NHS performance data and weekly hospital situation reports

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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:  
‘If anybody doubted it, today’s statistics highlight the scale of the challenge facing the NHS to deliver on the targets set out by the government earlier this week. There are now more than 6 million people on hospital waiting lists, with more than 20,000 people waiting more than two years for treatment. The government has provided additional funding and agreed a new plan with the NHS to improve hospital waits, but the glaring omission remains a strategy to ensure there are enough staff to make shorter waits a reality.  
‘Today’s data lays bare the impact of the unique combination of winter pressures and Omicron. Staff absences effectively doubled the vacancy rates for NHS staff and had a knock-on impact for patient services. Performance against the waiting-time target for A&Es remains poor with 12-hour waits in A&E reaching record highs and no NHS organisations with major A&E departments achieving the national performance target.  
‘The NHS has successfully tackled long waiting lists in the past when it was given sufficient investment and realistic timescales. Even now local services are building new surgical hubs and new diagnostic facilities to improve services for patients. But for too many years the NHS has been hamstrung by chronic staff shortages and without enough staff the new targets for waiting lists and cancer treatment will remain aspirational and performance in other key services like A&E will continue to deteriorate. To improve patient care the government must move beyond repeating manifesto pledges and instead come forward with a fully funded workforce strategy.’ 

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.