Urgent and emergency care recovery at risk from strikes and workforce shortages

23 February 2023

Responding to NHS England's winter situation report, which shows significantly high bed occupancy and delayed discharges, Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive at NHS Providers said:

"While the slight easing of demand means trust leaders can focus on tackling backlogs, recovery of urgent and emergency care services is fragile and could be seriously undermined by industrial action and workforce shortages without national intervention.

"Bed occupancy remains too high at 94%, as does the number of delayed discharges – with 13,700 medically fit patients unable to leave hospital every day in part due a lack of investment in social and community services.

"We hope the government's talks with the Royal College of Nursing on pay will lead to a lasting resolution on the strikes, with any settlement agreed being fully funded. It's vital the government also open a similar dialogue with the other striking unions to ensure more industrial action is averted. 

"The national workforce plan should also go a long way to help tackle the workforce shortages. This, too, must be fully funded."

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