Commenting in response to the NHS monthly performance figures, Dr Layla McCay, Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation, said:
“The NHS continues to experience winter levels of demand and is under considerable strain, but despite this NHS staff have made major progress in tackling the huge waiting list for routine operations.
“However, these figures paint a stark picture when it comes to the number of patients who are stuck in hospital longer than they need to be due to a lack of available care packages in social care. Only four in 10 patients were able to leave hospital when they were ready to. There were almost 13,000 patients a day who spent more time in hospital than needed – an 11% rise on the previous month. This is contributing to greater pressure on ambulance services and A&E departments.
“NHS leaders have been urging the government to grip the crisis in social care and provide more funding and support for local care services, including by immediately implementing a national care worker minimum wage of £10.50 an hour. This must be at the top of the priority list for the next Prime Minister, otherwise patients in the NHS will continue to be at risk and thousands of vulnerable people will miss out on the vital care and support they need.
“Despite the record levels of demand the NHS is facing, staff are continuing to make vital progress in tackling the elective backlog. The number of people waiting more than two years has been dramatically reduced, and the number of people waiting more than 18 months for treatment has been slashed by almost a third. This is welcome news.
“But these figures, including the highest ever number of Category 1 ambulance call-outs and rising demand for mental health services, once again reveal an NHS that is under huge strain. And we know this will worsen over the winter when we expect to see high levels of flu, norovirus and potential further Covid variants. The government’s imminent winter plan needs to provide the resources and support that local NHS services need to mitigate the considerable risks ahead.”