Performance data shows “lack of preparation for the inevitable” says SAM leaders

The latest NHS performance data released today (10 June) shows 5.12 million people were on the waiting list for hospital treatment at the end of April – the highest number since records began in 2007.

A&E attendances in England last month were 65% higher than a year ago and 83.7% of patients were seen within 4 hours in all A&E departments compared to 85.4% in April 2021 and 93.5% in May 2020. The 95% standard was last met in July 2015.

Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “The warning signs about where the NHS was heading were glaringly visible a number of years ago and what we are seeing in recent monthly data is the result of a lack of preparedness for the inevitable.

“With acute and emergency care under increasing strain and bed occupancy well over safe levels at more than 90% – yet far less impact from Covid at this point – we have major problems.

“We are in a dire state when it comes to record numbers of people waiting for treatment, but we must also remember the four-hour emergency access target has not been met for years now with little to no change in approach.”

Dr Susan Crossland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “The responsibility now is on the government and NHS leaders to make sure the needs of urgent and emergency care services are also accounted for and not bumped to the back of the queue.

“As ministers hastily rush to avoid more damaging headlines over waiting times, they need to remember the elective recovery has to work hand in hand with urgent and emergency care at the front door or we will struggle to cope.”