NHS still under pressure despite performance improvements

Despite data suggesting that the winter peak may be over the NHS is still under immense pressure.

29 February 2024

  • Flu levels have fallen for the third week in a row to an average of 1,837 patients in hospital each day last week; 
  • The proportion of ambulance handover delays of more than 30 minutes was 27% last week while the proportion of delays of more than 60 minutes was 9.5% - both down from the previous week;
  • An average of 46,191 NHS staff were off sick last week, down for the third week in a row;
  • Some 13,222 beds each day were filled with patients no longer meeting the criteria to reside in hospital on average last week, down 3% from 13,624 the previous week.

Responding to the to the latest NHS England winter sitrep data Rory Deighton, director of the NHS Confederation’s Acute Network, said:

“NHS leaders and their teams have been working tirelessly in the face of high levels of winter viruses and staff absences and amid ongoing industrial action to provide patients the care they need. 

“But the fact that the data suggests that the winter peak may now have passed does not mean that the pressure on services has lifted. Our members report that their A&Es have been incredibly busy, with care having to be provided through surge beds and in corridors. This must not become the new normal, not only is it not good for patients but it leaves hard-pressed staff frustrated they cannot provide the best care possible. 

"Meanwhile, despite high demand ambulance handovers have fallen, testimony to the hard work and planning of ambulance and hospital trusts and careful sharing of risk across both parts of the emergency care system.

“These are not problems that can be solved without providing the NHS with additional support to recover services and improve performance. That is why we are urging the next government to boost capital funding and commit to a 12-month stabilisation plan to help get performance in England back on track.”