Trusts' waiting lists work paying off but no let-up in pressure on NHS

11 May 2023

Latest monthly performance figures from NHS England show:

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said:

"Yet again the figures lay bare the effects of mounting pressure on overstretched NHS services after one of the toughest ever winters and point to very tough challenges ahead.

"Trusts have pulled out all the stops to cut by 90% the number of people waiting 78 weeks or more for care – a remarkable achievement against a backdrop of months of strikes, severe staff shortages and a yawning gap between capacity and growing demand.

"While very long waits have been bought down, more people are joining the waiting list which is now at a record high of 7.3 million, reflecting the fact that demand is high and rising.

"Staff and trust leaders deserve credit for continuing to work flat out to see people as quickly as possible and to improve the flow of patients through the whole health system. But there's a long way to go to get waiting times and lists down across physical and mental services to where patients and the NHS want.

"Acute pressure on urgent and emergency care persists, with A&E attendances and ambulance call-outs still very high – compounded by pressure on social care and community services which leaves thousands of patients in hospital beds when they could be recovering at or closer to home.

"Care backlogs pre-date strikes and the pandemic due to years of under-investment right across the NHS including mental health and community services.

"The NHS needs a surgical, laser-like focus on strategic, long-term plans to boost capacity and bolster social care.

"Trust leaders have called long and loud for a desperately needed national workforce plan, fully costed and fully funded by the government. Without it the NHS will continue to struggle to meet ever-growing demand with too few staff."

You can follow our analysis of the latest performance figures from NHS England through our NHS Activity Tracker campaign.