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

'Today’s figures show that the number of patients receiving elective care and cancer treatment are continuing to edge closer to normal levels, which is testament to the hard work and determination of NHS staff.

'However, despite progress in reopening routine hospital services, waiting times are increasing as the NHS struggles to tackle a growing backlog of care. More than 111,000 people have now waited more than 52 weeks for routine hospital treatment. The official data is just the tip of the iceberg as some patients are still waiting for services to fully open to new referrals while many others may have felt uncomfortable visiting their GP during the lockdown.

'Meanwhile, the health service is beginning to experience pressure from growing numbers of patients with COVID-19, as well as the expected increase in seasonal illnesses as people go back to work and school. September saw 36% more calls to NHS 111 than the same month last year, while emergency admissions are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.  

'The government must not underestimate the resources that the NHS will need as we approach a winter with COVID-19. Without additional staff and facilities, we risk losing the progress that has been made over the summer in restoring non-COVID services as emergency pressures surge.’

Media contact

Simon Perry
020 7257 2093

Further reading


Public perceptions of health and social care in light of COVID-19 (July 2020)

October 2020

Results from an Ipsos MORI survey commissioned by the Health Foundation between 17 and 29 July 2020.


COVID-19 policy tracker


A timeline to 12 October 2020 of national policy and health system responses to COVID-19 in England.

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