Responding to the latest NHS monthly performance statistics, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said:
“There is no doubt that the NHS is facing a dark winter, with the figures today showing that the waiting list stands at 7.77m, including 6.5m unique patients waiting for care. The waiting list is continuing to creep up as winter really begins, making it abundantly clear that there needs to be more support for health leaders and their staff to deliver for patients while facing the increased pressure this season will bring.
"Major A&E attendances were the highest they have been this year at over 1.4m, couple this with ambulance response times which saw people with urgent cases waiting nearly 42 minutes and you have the makings of a perfect winter storm for the NHS.
“The towering level of demand is something the government can ill-afford to overlook in the upcoming autumn statement. If the statement is not used as an opportunity to provide support, the service may well spiral even deeper into crisis.
“This is all against a backdrop of the long-term impacts of intense waves of industrial action. NHS leaders have already voiced their concerns for months about the extra costs of strikes which is already over £1 billion. The £800m of ‘extra funding’ announced by the government - £200m of which was previously announced in September and is the only genuine new money, with the rest coming from budgets being raided elsewhere - is not enough to offset the costs of the strikes. While it does leave the service in an awkward situation, the figures today prove that, at the very least, this funding needs to reach the NHS frontline as soon as possible for it to be most effective in bringing in extra winter capacity. The lack of clarity about where the extra savings will need to come from to make up the shortfall, risk causing further uncertainty for the health service in a time where certainty is key to ensuring that leaders can support their patients to the best of their abilities.”