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NHS Confederation - NHS performance improvements welcome amid record demand

The NHS is still facing record demand following a very tough winter for services.

  • The total waiting list for procedures and appointments fell from 7.58 million in January to 7.54 million in February. This was mainly due to NHS England having removed the waiting list for community paediatric health services (roughly 36,000 entries) from the overall figure.
  • Some 74.2% of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged from A&E departments within four hours in March, up on the 70.9% in February.  
  • Some 147,650 patients who attended A&E were there for more than 12 hours, 10.3% of all attendances. 
  • There were a record 2.35 million attendances at A&Es across England in March, with a record 425,955 emergency admissions via A&E. 
  • Category 2 ambulance average response time for March was 33 minutes and 50 seconds against the thirty-minute target for 2023/24. For Category 1 ambulances, the average response time was 8 minutes and 20 seconds.
  • In February 78.1% of cancer patients were told they had cancer or had it definitively ruled out within 28 days, up from 70.9% in January. This is the first time the 75% target has been exceeded.  

Responding to the latest NHS performance statistics Rory Deighton, director of the NHS Confederation’s Acute Network, said:

“NHS leaders and their teams continue to pull out all the stops to provide care for their patients amid extraordinary demand for services. This has been one of the toughest winters ever for the health service, so it is good to see some welcome performance improvements as flu and respiratory virus levels drop. It is also fantastic to see that the faster cancer diagnosis target has been exceeded for the first time.

“But record demand continues to pile pressure on services, with the delays throughout the emergency care system creating bottlenecks from the front door of hospitals to the back. Ambulances response times are still too long, handovers are delayed at A&E, patients are waiting too long in emergency departments and too may people medically fit enough to leave are stuck in hospitals because of a lack of support at home or in the community. Our members also report that financial crises facing local authority partners is limiting the social care packages they are able to offer.

“Ambulance and A&E delays can cost lives, staff are trying to mitigate safety risks day in and day out but care that was unthinkable a decade ago is at risk of becoming the new normal – patients being treated in corridors or overflow wards, critical incidents being declared regularly. 

“This is impacting patient satisfaction and staff morale. We must begin preparing for next winter, building on the improvements that have been made this year. But improvement will take time and the NHS needs the right resources and support in order to meet the tough financial and productivity targets it has been set for the coming year.”

Original article link: https://www.nhsconfed.org/news/nhs-performance-improvements-welcome-amid-record-demand

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