Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King's Fund, commented on the latest monthly NHS performance data and the Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC) data for 2021/22
NHS services are facing a range of really serious challenges that impact on patients and the quality and timeliness of care they receive - including crumbling buildings and outdated equipment, long waiting lists for care, high levels of Covid-19 and growing staff shortages.
Today's figures lay bare these pressures. In September, there were nearly 33,000 emergency patients waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted to hospital, which is the highest number since records began. Meanwhile, people are waiting nearly 50 minutes for an ambulance despite the target being 18 minutes, and more than 13,500 people were stuck in hospital when they no longer need to be there, partly due to a lack of investment in social care. Data published today also shows that tackling the backlog of maintenance issues with NHS facilities and equipment, some of which present a high risk to patients and staff, has risen to over 10 billion.
Separate analysis by The King's Fund published today also shows that until the government resolves staffing and equipment issues, diagnostic waits will remain stubbornly high, currently at more than 1.5 million people, despite new community diagnostic centres opening their doors.
Successive governments' refusal to confront the worsening health and care workforce crisis and their chronic underinvestment in NHS buildings and infrastructure has created this mix of problems.
This winter, typical seasonal pressures on NHS services will be amplified by Covid-19 and a cost-of-living crisis that could impact on people's physical and mental health. The government must acknowledge stark reality of the situation. If the current workforce and spending plans are the most the government is willing to offer, then there is little chance the health and care secretary's Plan for Patients will be delivered. And sadly, it will be the public and patients who will suffer for those broken promises.'
Notes to editors
1. A new briefing by The King's Fund explores the role that diagnostics play in underpinning much of the activity that takes place in the health and care system, the policy focus to date and where attention is needed to ensure diagnostic capacity and capability are fit for the future.
2. A blog by The King's Fund explores what national health leaders in government and NHS England can realistically do to support paramedics this winter.
For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585 (if calling out of hours, please ring 07584 146035) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.