Nuffield Trust: Response to NHS performance statistics

Press release

Published: 08/02/2024

Responding to the latest NHS performance stats, Nuffield Trust Acting Director of Research Dr Sarah Scobie said:

“It is welcome to see the trend of increases to the waiting list reversed. While 6,000 is only a very small fall, it has been achieved despite industrial action and winter pressures. But typical December trends have also helped with fewer people being referred and joining the waiting list. In December last year, 350,000 fewer people were referred than the month before, so it remains to be seen whether this fall can be sustained as referrals inevitably rise again into the new year.

“Today’s figures do little to change the reality that the prime minister’s pledge to bring the waiting list down will not be met, as he acknowledged earlier this week. In fact, today’s figures reveal that there are almost 400,000 more outstanding treatments now than when Rishi Sunak’s pledge was made last January.

“While the overall waiting list for treatments or operations appears to be stabilising, it is hard to see a route to making faster and more significant progress, with staff already working flat out and under immense pressure.”

Notes to editors

  • The latest monthly performance figures from NHS England can be found at:
  • 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.
  • For all queries or to arrange an interview, contact our press office:; or 020 7462 0500.