Nuffield Trust’s Chief Executive, Nigel Edwards responds to NHS England’s weekly winter operational statistics and monthly combined performance summary:
“Today’s figures clearly reveal why the NHS is under such extraordinary pressure this winter. Just a week into the New Year and with two months of winter to go, bed occupancy levels are running at 95% and last Tuesday more ambulances were delayed for over an hour than at any point since the start of winter.
“This is despite the effects of cancelling non-urgent operations and the small respite provided by lower bed occupancy over Christmas.
“Meanwhile, monthly figures show that A&E performance levels in December slumped to their lowest since records began and just three NHS trusts in England met the four-hour A&E target. This kind of pressure has an effect across the whole system: in December almost 70,000 patients waited on a trolley to be admitted to hospital for four hours or more.
“The time for discussing and diagnosing the problem is over: there is widespread recognition that the NHS needs more staff and money now. The real question is how to overcome political gridlock to put health and social care on a sustainable footing.”