Responding to the latest NHS monthly performance statistics and weekly sit rep data, Nuffield Trust Acting Director of Research Sarah Scobie said:
“It is very welcome to see a fall in the number of treatments waiting to be started as well as nearly 60,000 people come off the waiting list in November 2023. The fact that NHS staff have been able to increase the number of patients they have been able to treat, coupled with a slowdown in people joining the waiting list, has helped move things in the right direction.
“It is also a positive sign to see a reduction in the number of patients who have been left waiting for 65 weeks or more. However, given where we are now, and the challenges of winter, it remains unlikely the NHS will meet the target it set itself to eliminate waits of this length by March this year.
“The tough task remains sustaining this momentum against the force of prevailing challenges. The latest winter sit rep data makes clear the health service is facing a winter as challenging as last on many indicators, even with substantial planning and fewer flu cases. The challenges brought to bear by further industrial action in January will only add to winter pressure.
“We also know the NHS is in a dire financial situation and health and care systems have been asked to scale back additional spending on elective recovery to balance the books – any reduction on extra staff or resources to clear long waits will stall progress.
“It is important to remember that even before Covid-19 we were seeing growing waiting lists and backlogs of care and the root causes behind this have not gone away.”
Notes to editors
• The latest monthly performance figures from NHS England can be found at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/
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