NHS still under severe strain despite fall in COVID-19 admissions

11 February 2021


Responding to the latest monthly combined performance data, and winter reporting data from NHS England and NHS Improvement, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"The NHS continues to be under enormous pressure, with over 100,000 people admitted into hospitals with COVID-19 in January. Critical care facilities, in particular, are under severe strain. Separate data shows that while we are now coming down from the peak of this wave, hospitals are still treating 10% more COVID-19 patients than the peak of the first wave in April 2020.

"Monthly statistics released today show that A&E attendances fell in January, but the number of people waiting over 12 hours to be admitted has reached over 3,800.

Despite COVID-19 pressures, the NHS still managed to diagnose and care for cancer patients throughout December.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

"Despite COVID-19 pressures, the NHS still managed to diagnose and care for cancer patients throughout December, with activity levels higher than the same time last year. The number of people who saw a consultant following an urgent GP referral reached over 200,000 and more than 25,000 people started cancer treatment, both back to pre-pandemic levels.

"NHS staff are working tirelessly to carry out as many operations as possible in the current circumstances. However, the number of people waiting longer than 52 weeks has now reached over 224,000 and the total waiting list stands at 4.52 million. The government, national bodies and the public will need to be realistic about the time it will take to tackle this backlog, recognising the impact these strained pressures have placed on an already overstretched workforce.

More positively, other parts of the system are starting to benefit from the reduction in COVID-19 admissions.

Chris Hopson    Chief Executive

"More positively, other parts of the system are starting to benefit from the reduction in COVID-19 admissions. It was particularly encouraging to see the marked reduction in handover delays for patients being transferred from ambulances to hospital, to the lowest level this winter or last. Reducing handover delays means that ambulances can quickly answer new calls, and get back to the community to care for people more rapidly.

"The figures paint a picture of the NHS trying to carry out as much non-COVID care as possible in a really difficult context. While there are positive signs, thanks to the hard work of NHS staff across all sectors – acute, ambulance, community and mental health – we are not yet out of the woods. Adhering to the lockdown measures continues to be the key to reducing COVID-19 pressures across the NHS and it’s vital that people continue to comply with restrictions."

 

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