The latest NHS performance statistics have been released, showing that in July 2019 there were 2.27m A&E attendances, 4.0% more than in July 2018. The data also showed that attendances in the last 12 months were 3.7% higher than the preceding 12-month period, and that the number of patients seen in over four hours was 275,526 compared to 208,083 in July 2018, marking an increase of 32.4%.
More worryingly, the number of A&E patients in England waiting on trolleys for more than four hours to be admitted has increased by over a third to the highest level since records began – with 57,694 patients waiting more than four hours from decision to admit to admission – a figure that’s 34.7% higher than July 2018. Of these, 436 patients waited more than 12 hours.
In addition to A&E statistics, the report noted that over the month of July there were 735,974 incidents in England - 23,741 per day - that either received a face-to-face response from an ambulance service or were resolved on the telephone.
The mean average response times across England in July 2019 were seven minutes 14 seconds for Category C1 and 23 minutes 18 seconds for Category C2. The C1 average just missed the standard of seven minutes, but the C2 average was more than five minutes over the standard of 18 minutes.
In terms of cancer waiting times, more people are being seen following an urgent referral than before, with 2,282,036 people seen in the 12 months to June 2019, an increase of 13.7% or 274,400 more patients.
90.0% of people in June 2019 were seen by a specialist within two weeks of an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer, just short of the operational standard which specifies that 93% of patients should be seen within this time.
Mental health statistics, however, are looking up, with 52.9% of referrals recovering in April 2019, compared to 50.8% in 2017-18 and 49.3% in 2016-17.
Nick Ville, director of membership and policy at the NHS Confederation, said that the figures “show the health service is still struggling to climb out of the morass created by a decade of austerity. Year on year, the demands made on frontline services continue to grow, with attendances at A&E significantly higher than at this time last year. Our dedicated staff do all they can for patients, but they are being stretched to breaking point.”
The statistics have been announced shortly after the UK’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, pledged an extra £1.8 billion cash injection to the NHS, saying that the money will go towards ‘more beds, new cutting-edge equipment and additional wards’ for various countries across the country.
An additional £1 billion boost to NHS capital spending has also been announced, allowing existing upgrade programmes to proceed and tackling the most urgent infrastructure projects.
Ville added that the additional investment in the NHS is “welcome”, but the government “must complete the ‘unfinished business’ of the funding settlement for the health and care system.”