Qualitywatch

A Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation programme

NHS performance tracker

Our monthly-updated analysis of the NHS's performance against totemic access and waiting times targets.

 

Headlines

  • In May 2024, the overall waiting list to start elective (planned) care rose again by over 31,000 compared to April, bringing it to 7.60 million. 
  • 40% of patients who had their first treatment for cancer following an urgent GP referral waited longer than two months, making it over 10 years since the historic 15% target for this was last met. 
  • Approximately 25% of people attending A&E spent more than four hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge in June 2024 - still a percentage point short of the 24% interim target for March 2024.  

 

The analysis below includes the latest data on key activity and performance measures from May and June 2024, as published by NHS England on 11 July 2024. This includes data on the NHS's performance against some key targets, including some of those set out in the latest planning guidance, as well as other indicators of patient safety and care. 

Planned hospital care and diagnostic test waiting times

  • The waiting list to start elective (planned) care increased from 7.57 million in April 2024 to 7.60 million in May 2024. 

  • 6.38 million people were waiting to start elective care in May 2024. This is lower than the overall waiting list of 7.60 million because some people are waiting for multiple treatments.

  • There is a revised objective to have no more people waiting over 65 weeks to start consultant-led elective treatment by September 2024 (except where patients choose to wait longer), replacing the original objective for this to happen by March 2024. There were almost 56,000 waits this long in May 2024, a slight increase on the previous month. 

  • The median time that patients had been on the waiting list was 14.2 weeks in May 2024. This is similar to May last year, but nearly double what it was before the pandemic in May 2019 (7.7 weeks).

  • The number of waits of over 52 weeks to start elective care stood at 308,000 in May 2024 – a small increase on April. In May 2019, there were only 1,255 waits of over 52 weeks. The aim is to have nobody having to wait this long by March 2025.

  • 22% of people waited over six weeks for a diagnostic test in May 2024. This is a slight improvement on the previous month, but is far beyond the 1% target, as well as the objective of 5% by March 2025. 

For more information, see our treatment waiting times and diagnostic test waiting times indicators. For information on the recategorisation of community service pathways, see the NHS statistical press notice

 

 

 

 

 

Cancer waiting times

  • In May 2024, the NHS met the recently introduced Faster Diagnosis Standard to have 75% of patients having their cancer diagnosed or ruled out within 28 days, with 76.4% of patients doing so.

  • In May 2024, 40% of patients who had their first treatment for cancer following an urgent GP referral waited longer than two months. This is far from the historic target of only 15% of patients waiting this long, which has only been met once since April 2014.

  • The number of patients who waited longer than two months from an urgent GP referral to a first treatment for cancer was 6,603 in April 2024. When the 15% threshold target was last met in December 2015, only 1,704 patients waited more than two months for their first cancer treatment.

  • In December, NHS England began publishing new cancer waiting time standards. For the new standard concerning two-month waits from an urgent suspected cancer referral,  breast symptomatic referral,  urgent screening referral, or consultant upgrade to a first treatment for cancer, 34% waited longer than the target time to begin treatment in May 2024. This is up from April 2024, moving performance away from the new objective of reducing this proportion to 30% by March 2025. The 15% standard has not come close to being met during the period for which records are available. 

For more information, see our cancer waiting time targets indicator. Data for the first cancer chart from April 2023 onwards has been derived from NHS England’s commissioner-based cancer waiting times data extract. This is due to changes in the cancer waiting times standards which have led to changes in the published national-level data.  

 

 

Emergency care

A&E

  • In June 2024, there were 2.29 million attendances to A&E departments, the highest number of attendances on record for the month of June. This represents a 3% increase compared to the previous June, a 9% increase compared to before the pandemic in June 2019, and a 28% increase on the first recorded June in 2011, when there were only 1.78 million attendances.
  • The relative growth in emergency admissions via A&E is lower. There were 402,055 emergency admissions via A&E in June 2024, which is 3.6% higher than the previous June but only 0.8% higher than in June 2019.
  • Approximately 25% of people attending A&E spent more than four hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge in June 2024. By a small margin, this is the best performance for the service in the last 12 months but remains 11.8 percentage points worse than before the pandemic in June 2019. 
  • Although close, performance against the four-hour target is yet to meet the March 2024 objective of 76% or fewer being seen within the target time. The long-standing 95% standard is irrefutably far from reach.
  • Trolley waits (the time between a decision to admit a patient and them being admitted) of over four hours decreased by around 10,000 compared to the previous month to approximately 128,000 in June 2024. However, this is 13% more than in June last year and more than double the number in June 2019 when there were 61,507 patients who waited this long.
  • There were 38,106 trolley waits of over 12 hours in June 2024, a 44% increase on the previous year. This is the first time it has been under the 40,000 threshold in the past 9 months, but pre-pandemic it was only 1/80th of its current value (462 trolley waits in June 2019). 

For more information, see our A&E waiting times indicator.

 

 

 

 

 

Ambulances

  • In June 2024, there was an average response time of 8 minutes 21 seconds to Category 1 incidents (life-threatening conditions, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest), 5 seconds faster than the average over the last 12 months. The seven-minute target remains out of reach.
  • One in 10 people involved in a Category 1 incident waited over 14 minutes 53 seconds, meeting the target of 90% of patients with a Category 1 incident being reached within 15 minutes. 
  • Average response times to Category 2 incidents (emergency conditions such as stroke or heart attack) were 34 minutes 38 seconds, a minute and a half longer than they were last month in May 2024. This is still nearly twice the mean target of 18 minutes. 

For more information, see our ambulance response times indicator. 

 

 

About this data

QualityWatch provides independent scrutiny of the health and social care system. The most recent data published today reflects changes in access and waiting times in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Between May 2019 and May 2023, in response to proposals made in the Clinically-Led Review of NHS Access Standards Interim Report, 14 hospital trusts acted as field testing sites for alternatives to the existing four-hour A&E standard. During this period, these trusts did not report performance on the four-hour standard and are hence absent from the data for May 2019 to May 2023. Reporting on the findings of the Clinical Review of Standards for Urgent and Emergency Care is now available.

For interactive charts showing the quality of health and social care over time, please refer to our 200+ indicators.