Responding to the latest NHS monthly performance statistics, Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Research Dr Sarah Scobie said:
“Raising taxes and funnelling funds to the NHS to help tackle the ever-growing and seemingly unscalable backlog of care shows the government recognises the momentous task facing health and care services.
“The number of patients waiting for routine treatment continues to create new record levels, leaving too many people struggling with care needs. Unfortunately, while the numbers of people starting treatment are near pre-pandemic levels, the service will need to go beyond that level to reduce the waiting list. It is also concerning that the numbers referred for treatment from GPs are still lower than in 2019.
“The pressure on the health system as a whole, hampered by infection control measures and growing Covid hospitalisations, is showing clearly in busy urgent care departments. Patients who need a hospital bed after a decision is made to admit them are spending hours waiting. The level of four-hour waits in August (over 96,000 patients) is similar to what we saw during the last two winters. It must once again feel like winter is a permanent season for staff on the frontline.
“It is right that the NHS will have to grow the amount of work it can do to deal with current demand and clear the backlog of care. Money will help but alone will not be enough to address some of the long-standing workforce and growing demand challenges that have been with us since before the pandemic.”
Notes to editors
- The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.
- The latest monthly combined performance figures from NHS England can be found at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/
- For all queries or to arrange an interview, contact: Simon Keen: 07780 475571 / firstname.lastname@example.org; or Meesha Patel: 07920 043676 / email@example.com