Nuffield Trust comments on Combined Performance Summary and GP Patient Survey

This summer’s heatwave has caused severe strain on the NHS with significant spikes in A&E attendances and admissions.

Press release

Published: 09/08/2018

Commenting on new NHS performance figures [1], Nuffield Trust Chief Economist Prof John Appleby said:

“July 2018 was the most pressured summer month for A&E departments in recent history, showing that there’s no doubt this summer’s heatwave has caused severe strain on the NHS. It is usual for A&E attendances to spike during the summer [2], but this year they were the highest since monthly reporting began in 2010 - a 4.9% increase compared to July 2017. At the same time, emergency admissions via A&E were up 7.3% since this time last year, and long trolley waits were also significantly higher than a year ago.

“Figures from today’s GP patient survey [3] serve as a reminder that these pressures are not isolated to A&E. One in three people who wanted to speak to a GP when their practice was closed say they went to A&E instead.

“What’s more, planned treatment waiting lists continue to grow relentlessly, now topping 4.3 million, and 3,500 people have been waiting more than a year. Meanwhile, more than a fifth of cancer patients are waiting over two months to start treatment - the highest since current records began.

“Despite the best efforts of NHS staff, the health service does not appear to be able to reverse the now well-established trend of declining performance against key waiting time targets.”

Notes to editors

  • 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 July 2018, and planned care up to June 2018.
  • Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation analysis of A&E attendances found a correlation between outside air temperature and A&E admissions, with a 1 degree rise in air temperature associated with a 1% rise in A&E attendances.
  • The GP Patient Survey 2018 results can be found here. 2,221,068 questionnaires were sent out nationally, and 758,165 were returned completed between 2nd January and 31st March 2018.
  • The Nuffield Trust is an independent health policy 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. 

To arrange an interview or to speak to Professor Appleby please contact Kirsty Ridyard or Leonora Merry on 020 7462 0552/0555 or email or

Nuffield Trust has an in house ISDN line for radio interviews.