Commenting on data published today by NHS England and Public Health England, Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:
'Today’s figures show waiting times in A&E are at their highest since 2010 and it is increasingly clear that the current situation is unsustainable. Despite huge efforts to free up hospital beds by getting more people home when they are ready, there is still huge pressure on NHS hospitals this winter.
'Last month nearly a third of the people who attended a major A&E department needed to be admitted as an emergency. This situation, combined with an increase in flu rates since the New Year, puts extra pressure on beds. Every day last week, four in five hospital trusts were busier than the 92% occupancy target set by NHS England. This may be enough to tip the balance from a winter that is tough but just about manageable, to one that is unrelentingly grim for patients and staff alike.
'Seven years into a decade with the lowest rate of health service funding growth since the NHS was founded 70 years ago, more resources are needed for all parts of the NHS and social care, as well as better long-term planning, to break the annual cycle of the NHS just about coping every winter.'
Notes to editors
GP consultations for flu-like illnesses than last week (all four countries of the UK are now considered as ‘medium’ up from ‘low’), and
hospital admissions, including intensive care for flu (number of cases and rate of hospital admissions remain ‘very high’)
The Health Foundation has published a series of blogs about winter pressures at each stage of the admission to discharge process.