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The King's Fund responds the latest NHS performance data

Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund, commented on the latest monthly NHS performance data, which come a week before the Autumn Statement 

‘Just days before the Autumn Statement, these figures present government with an uncomfortable truth; many NHS services are already in crisis and the situation is likely to worsen as winter bites and demoralised staff show their discontent through industrial action.  

‘Already there are nearly 44,000 emergency patients waiting more than 12 hours in A&E to be admitted to hospital, which is the highest on record, continued delays in moving patients from ambulances to busy A&E departments, and 13,600 people unable to leave hospital despite being medically fit. And as services struggle to meet demand, services face 132,000 staff shortages and continued pressures from Covid-19. 

‘The government’s upcoming fiscal statement will have a profound impact on the quality and accessibility of health and care services for patients in the coming years. If NHS budgets keep being eroded by inflation, it is hard to see how ambitious government targets to reduce hospital waiting lists – which currently stand at 7.1 million for routine care – can possibly be achieved. 

‘History has shown us that attempts to protect core NHS budgets at the expense of wider spending on social care, illness prevention and capital investment are short-sighted and can lead to greater pressure on services further down the line, and leave NHS patients and staff with failing equipment, dilapidated buildings and poorer health.  

‘Now is the moment for the government to show stewardship of health and care services as well as the economy. If, instead, ministers choose to squeeze health and care budgets, they must be prepared to explain to patients and the public why services are going to deteriorate, with poorer care and longer waits as a result.’ 

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