Significant investment needed as waiting list for routine hospital care continues to grow Health Foundation response to NHS England’s monthly performance statistics

15 April 2021

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

‘Today’s statistics show the scale of the backlog and the growing numbers of people experiencing long waits for care. There are now 4.7 million waiting for routine hospital care, the largest number since comparable records began in 2007, with over 387,000 of those people waiting longer than a year. As our recent analysis shows, this is in addition to up to 6 million "missing patients" who either didn’t seek care or couldn’t access services during the pandemic, many of whom will still need treatment of some kind. Without decisive action, the pandemic’s negative impact on health will continue to ripple through society for years to come. 

‘The government and NHS leaders now need to be clear and realistic with the public about how they intend to get the NHS back to full strength. This includes dealing with the backlog of care, achieving the ambitions to modernise the NHS as set out in the long term plan and anticipating the effects of long COVID and an expected rise in poor mental health. There will need to be significant investment at the next Spending Review if we are to see improvement on waiting lists and plugging staff shortages, which are holding back progress.’ 

Further information

  • By the end of February 2021, 387,885 patients had already waited longer than 52 weeks to begin treatment. This is an increase from 304,044 in January 2021 and 224,205 in December 2020. It is also the highest number since December 2007.  
  • The Health Foundation recently published new analysis looking at how elective care in England has been impacted by COVID-19.

Media contact

Creina Lilburne

07941 156 827


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