Commenting on the latest performance stats for the NHS in England, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“The latest performance figures demonstrate the huge range of services the NHS is able to provide, not just in caring for COVID patients. It is so much more than a COVID-only service, providing 1.9 million elective procedures and other care unrelated to the virus in January and February, alongside treatment for almost 140,000 COVID patients, thanks to the incredible efforts of our NHS teams. It is also good news that cancer treatment is in line with February last year, before the real disruption of the pandemic began.
“However, we cannot ignore the scale of the challenge still facing the health service. There is still a major backlog in terms of diagnostic and elective activity as a result of COVID-19, and our own analysis suggests there may be far more below the surface. As it stands, there are now 4.7 million people waiting for treatment, and nearly 390,000 have waited for over a year. There has also been a concerning increase in the number of people having to wait longer than 62 days after being urgently referred for suspected cancer.
“There is a plan in place to tackle this backlog and through collaboration and innovation, our members are finding ways to improve throughput and efficiency. The £1 billion pledge in the Budget will go some way towards supporting this, but health leaders are clear that the NHS will be recovering for years to come, and this must be appropriately resourced in the long-term. There must also be investment in growing and maintaining the workforce, alongside continued funding to deal with COVID pressures, as we must all be live the possibility of a resurgence as the national lockdown restrictions continue to ease.”