Responding to the publication of NHS England’s combined monthly performance statistics for December 2016, Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:

'The NHS is under intense pressure.  Rising demand, cost pressures and an underfunded social care system are all contributing to growing numbers of people having to wait too long for care. This year (2016/17) is set to be the worst year on record for people not being seen in A&E within the four hour target.

'In the year to date, nearly 400,000 A&E patients had to wait more than 4 hours for a hospital bed, an increase of 150,000 compared to the same period last year and more than five times the number recorded five years ago. The number of people unable to leave hospital despite being medically fit for discharge remains at record levels for the time of year, and the proportion of these delays attributed to difficulties in arranging social care has continued to increase.

'But the figures are also testimony to the incredible hard work of NHS staff, who in December treated over 75,000 more A&E patients when compared with this time last year.

'The priority now is for local health and social care services to be given the support and resources they need to work together to cope with growing pressures so they can provide efficient, effective care. The government needs to use next month’s budget as an opportunity to address the gap in social care funding.'

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