Responding to the publication today by NHS England of the NHS performance statistics, senior policy fellow Tim Gardner said:
'Today’s figures are more evidence of the enormous scale of the challenge the NHS will face in the coming months to address growing levels of unmet care needs. They underline the risks of embarking on another major NHS reorganisation, as proposed in the government’s white paper published today.
'The NHS has been forced to focus on the pandemic and the recent surge in patients seriously unwell with COVID-19 has led to backlogs and delays for other patients. The 4.5 million people waiting for routine procedures like hip and knee operations at the end of December is the highest since records began, and includes nearly 225,000 people who have already waited over a year. These patients – whether they are on waiting lists or not yet in the system – are likely to need treatment in the coming months and many could be sicker as a result of delays to their care.
'The government must not underestimate the challenges that the NHS will face even once the worst of the pandemic has passed. Demand for NHS care is likely to increase in coming months. Government would be wise to focus attention on supporting doctors, nurses and other health care workers who have been under immense pressure and address longstanding staff shortages if they want to avoid making a bad situation worse.'
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