Commenting on data published today by NHS England, Ruth Thorlby, Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:

‘Today’s performance figures show that health and social care services are under sustained and intense strain this winter. January saw the worst performance on A&E waiting times in major A&E departments since monthly records began in 2010, with 77.1% of patients being seen within four hours. January also saw the worst performance on record for ‘trolley waits’ with over 81,000 people waiting more than four hours for a bed in A&E, a significant increase on December.’

‘The trade-offs in focusing on emergency care are also becoming increasingly apparent. In December 2017, performance against the referral to treatment target for planned operations fell to its lowest level since the target was introduced in 2012, with 11.8% of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks – up from 10.5% the month before. These figures are from before the NHS took the decision to advise hospitals to cancel non-urgent planned operations.’

‘Staff and patients are having to absorb the impact of these exceptional pressures. Although these figures relate to hospital care, pressure will also be very high across other areas that aren’t routinely measured; including primary, community and social care. All parts of the system need investment in order to maintain and improve the quality of care that patients need and deserve.’

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