Commenting on new NHS performance figures, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:
“This winter has been exceptionally tough for the NHS and these figures show that there was no let up, even after the end of the traditional winter period.
“We know that the NHS has pulled out all the stops to stay afloat this year, taking some drastic steps to manage demand for urgent care - from deferring planned treatment to breaches of the mixed sex accommodation rule.
“The number of days that patients were delayed in hospital, despite being ready to leave, has dropped by 25% compared to this time last year - an impressive achievement in the current environment. But even with these steps, 76,054 people waited for longer than four hours on trolleys for admission to hospital in March, only 5 major A&E departments met the four-hour A&E target, and overall performance against the four-hour target dropped to the lowest levels seen in 15 years. 
“The NHS simply cannot go on like this. Running a health system so close to capacity is highly risky and doing so endangers patient safety, as well as staff wellbeing. The Prime Minister has rightly signalled a more sustainable financial settlement for the NHS. This must ensure that the whole system - both inside and outside of hospital - is able to cope with the levels of demand for healthcare now and in the future.”
- The latest Combined Performance Summary, a compilation of NHS performance statistics released today, can be seen here. It gives figures for A&E up to March, and planned care up to February. At 84.6%, the proportion of people waiting for more than four hours for a decision in A&E is at its worst since monthly records began in 2010, and looking at the earlier quarterly records, it reflects the worst performance since 2004.