NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson is warning that the NHS is “under intolerable strain”, after the latest performance data continue to show growing demand and missed targets.
According to NHS data, in the last 12 months there has been a 2.4 percent growth in the number of people attending A&E and a 4.6 percent growth in the number of people admitted to hospital as an emergency.
The number of patients seen within four hours in A&E was just 90.7 percent, staying level with the result in March 2017. The 95 percent standard was last met in July 2015.
In May, patients spent a total of 139,200 extra days in hospital beds waiting to be discharged, although this marks a 21.9 percent decrease from May 2017.
At the end of the month, there were 4.1 million people on the waiting list for routine treatment, marking a 7.5 percent increase from a year earlier, while of those on the waiting list 88.1 percent had been waiting less than 18 weeks, thus not meeting the 92 percent standard.
Also, 3,101 patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for treatment compared to 1,651 in May 2017, and 434 patients five years ago (May 2013). However, “this comparison will be affected by differences in the trusts not submitting information in each period,” NHS England noted.
Dickson said the figures were a “baptism of fire” for new health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.
“These performance figures show a system under intolerable strain with growing accident and emergency attendances and emergency admissions. This is now the day-to-day reality of life at the clinical coal face, but it cannot go on.”
Dickson welcomed the government’s recent funding settlement for the NHS, but stressed that it will be crucial to “invest in ways of providing care in the community to reduce the pressures on hospitals and other services, because if the extra money “is used to prop up the existing system, we will surely fail and patients will suffer.”