Responding to the publication today by NHS England of the monthly performance statistics, Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:

‘Today’s data highlights the impact on the NHS of the peak in Omicron cases over winter. As government proceeds to end all Covid measures, it’s evident that even a ‘mild’ variant of this virus can still cause severe disruption to patient care.   

‘Despite the best efforts of staff to manage the pressure, it is clear that the NHS continues to be stretched to its limits. The waiting lists for routine hospital procedures reached 6.1 million in January 2022, with over 311,000 patients waiting over a year. The data also shows emergency care was under severe stress in February, with an average of 585 patients every day delayed for over 12 hours in A&E while waiting for a hospital bed.   

‘With Covid cases and hospitalisations once again rising, it’s clear that plans for ‘living with Covid’ are likely to have enduring consequences for the NHS as it seeks to tackle the backlog of treatment caused by the pandemic.  

‘This week the Health Secretary launched his ‘vision for long-term NHS reform’ which notably lacked detail on plans to address the NHS’s major workforce issues. There are currently 110,000 vacancies within the NHS and given the sheer scale of the pressure the NHS is under the government needs to be honest with the public about the challenge ahead.  

‘If the NHS is going to recover over the long term, then a fully funded workforce strategy should be at the heart of any reform ambitions.’  

Media contact

Liam Collins
Liam.Collins@health.org.uk
020 7360 7501 

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