The importance of reducing waiting times has come to the fore given rising demand and the unprecedented operational pressure facing the NHS following the Covid-19 pandemic. This was particularly evident over winter with long waits for ambulance callouts, handover delays, waits in A&E and delayed discharge, but we know waiting times and care backlogs must also be addressed for community and mental health services.

As new systems and collaborative networks continue to mature, trusts clearly have a core role to play in improving patient flow and access to care as well as health outcomes for the communities they serve.

These case studies show what can be achieved in the most challenging circumstances. We have seen how effective leadership, data insights, digital solutions, partnership working and an outcomes focus have delivered results. However, these case studies also underline the importance of action from government to improve workforce planning and address chronic workforce shortages, to open the debate about funding pressures and to respond to the need for capital investment to update the NHS estate and insufficient capacity.

While trusts can, and will, continue to innovate and deliver high-quality effective services, the public deserve and expect more timely support. Investment is needed across the country to ensure improvements are embedded and valuable lessons learned, in the vital work to ensure patients can access the services they need in a timely manner and in the right setting.