Responding to today’s NHS performance statistics for December 2016, Nuffield Trust Chief Economist and Director of Research John Appleby said:
“Today’s figures paint a stark picture of the very real pressures facing NHS hospitals across the country.
“The most striking statistic is that 61,000 patients were stuck on trolleys for more than four hours in December – the highest since these statistics were first published in 2010 and extremely worrying for patients and their families. What’s more, performance against the four hour A&E target dropped to its lowest since the target was set, with over a fifth of people who went to major A&E departments waiting longer than four hours in December.
“We already know that hospitals are running very close to full capacity across the entire NHS. Today’s figures provide a very real reminder that when hospitals are close to bursting, problems back up across the whole system, creating an often distressing experience for patients and staff alike, and risking patient safety.
“Despite the very best efforts by NHS staff and the development of new services to relieve pressure on A&E, demand for healthcare is showing no signs of abating. We must face up to the fact that we will pay – either through accepting a poorer performing NHS or by finding extra money for a better health service.”