A&E stats suggest public listening to coronavirus advice

The Nuffield Trust responds to the latest NHS performance figures.

Press release

Published: 12/03/2020

Commenting on the monthly NHS performance figures published today, Nuffield Trust Director of Research, John Appleby said:

“Last month saw some much-needed let up in Accident and Emergency departments. In February there was a sharp drop of 21,932 in the number of people waiting for over four hours on a trolley, improved performance against the four-hour target and 255 fewer emergency hospital admissions via A&E per day.

“This will be very welcome indeed as the NHS gears up for additional pressures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. There was also a drop in daily A&E attendances in February, which bucks the trend we would expect from this time of year. This suggests that public health messaging may be getting through to the public, who appear to be thinking carefully about staying away from hospital and are seeking advice through NHS 111. 

“However, the NHS remains under significant pressure. All major targets are being missed and we are seeing growing numbers of people delayed in leaving hospital, which often points to problems in social care. What’s more, trolley waits and waits for A&E are still much higher than this time last year, showing how hard it is already to find beds for patients. The proportion of people waiting too long for cancer treatment jumped to the highest since records began in January. 

“As the coronavirus outbreak intensifies we should be under no illusions about the additional strain this could put on an already pressured NHS. That’s why the public should continue to follow guidance from the Department of Health on hand hygiene and responsible use of the health service.”  

Notes to editors

For more information , please contact Leonora Merry on 020 7462 0528/ 0207 462 0555 or 07920 043709