Response to the latest NHS waiting time figures

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Responding to the latest NHS waiting time figures, Richard Murray, Director of Policy for The King’s Fund, said:

‘Despite the phenomenal efforts of NHS staff, the proportion of patients seen within four hours at major A&Es in December is the lowest for well over a decade. This reflects the intense pressure on the NHS, and once again highlights that this winter is proving to be the most difficult for many years. Emergency admissions are at their highest ever level for a single month and 4.5 per cent up on December last year, underlining unprecedented demand for hospital services.

‘The weekly data, while not fully validated, suggests these pressures have continued into the new year. The decision to cancel planned operations will have a significant impact on patients and is a last resort, but the figures for bed occupancy show that hospitals are effectively full.

‘Despite the welcome additional funding for the NHS in the last Budget, the service has reached the limit of what it can deliver within current funding levels. A new funding settlement is needed for the NHS and social care, building on the recommendations of the Barker Commission.’

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.