New figures show persistently high demand as 18-month waits rise

09 February 2023

Responding to NHS England's weekly sit-reps and monthly performance data, which show demand remains high and waits of more than 18 months for elective treatment have risen, Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers said:

"This has been one of the toughest winters for the NHS, but the hard work of trust leaders and their staff is leading to promising results. Despite demand for urgent and emergency care services remaining very high, ambulance response times have improved considerably.

"However, we're still not in the clear: waits of 18 months or more have gone up, and trust leaders are deeply concerned that other pressures – including staff shortages and escalating strikes – could not only obstruct future gains but derail ones already made.

"Bed occupancy is too high – still above what's safe – despite more beds being made available with pressures also on mental health and community services. Trust leaders are also worried about the strain that delayed discharges are putting on the entire system. Currently, 14,000 medically fit patients are unable to leave hospital, in part due to the need for more investment in social care and community services.

"Some of this pressure can be alleviated immediately. The strikes have led to 137,000 appointments being postponed but further disruption of this kind can be stopped dead in its tracks by the government talking to unions about pay for this financial year."

You can follow our analysis of the latest winter figures from NHS England through our NHS Winter Watch campaign.