What do the latest NHS performance figures show?
Here are the key figures from the latest NHS performance data in England:
The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has hit a new high.
A total of 6.4 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of March 2022, according to figures from NHS England. This is up from 6.2 million in February and is the highest number since records began in August 2007.
– Waiting for more than two years
At the end of March, 16,796 people were waiting more than two years to start treatment.
That’s down from 23,281 at the end of February, but it’s more than six times the 2,608 people who were waiting more than two years in April 2021.
The government and NHS England have set an ambition to eliminate all waits longer than two years, except when it is the patient’s choice, by July 2022.
– Waiting for more than a year
The number of people having to wait more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment in England was 306,286 in March, down from 299,478 the previous month.
The government and NHS England have set an ambition to eliminate all waits longer than one year by March 2025.
– Hospital admission
The number of people admitted for routine treatment to hospitals in England in March was 282,545 – up 28% on the previous year (220,349), although this reflects lower than normal figures for March 2021, which have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The equivalent figure for March 2019, a pandemic-free year, was 305,356.
– A&E is waiting
A record 24,138 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in April after a decision to admit they were indeed admitted.
The figure is up from 22,506 in March and is the highest of any calendar month in records dating back to August 2010.
A total of 131,905 people waited at least four hours after the admission decision in April, compared to 136,298 in March.
Meanwhile, 72.3% of patients in England were seen within four hours in the emergency room last month, the second lowest percentage in records dating back to November 2010.
The operational standard states that at least 95% of patients attending A&E must be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, but this has not been met nationwide since 2015.
– Ambulance response time
Last month, the average response time for ambulances in England handling the most urgent incidents – defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries – was nine minutes and two seconds.
That’s down from March’s nine minutes and 35 seconds, which was the longest average since the current records began in August 2017.
Ambulances took an average of 51 minutes and 22 seconds last month to respond to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy and stroke.
This is down from one hour, one minute and three seconds in March, which was the longest duration on record for this category of calls.
Response times for urgent calls – such as late stages of labour, non-serious burns and diabetes – averaged two hours, 38 minutes and 41 seconds.
That’s down from the record of three hours, 28 minutes and 13 seconds in March.
– Cancer References
Some 253,796 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in England in March, with the highest number on record dating back to October 2009.
That’s a 9% increase from 232,136 in the same month last year, while the equivalent figure for March 2019, a non-pandemic year, was 198,418.
The proportion of patients in England seeing a specialist within two weeks was 81 per cent, the same as the previous month, while 73 per cent of patients referred urgently for suspected cancer in England in March were diagnosed with or had cancer excluded within 28 days.
Data for this measure only goes back to April 2021, so there are no comparable figures for March 2021.
The elective recovery plan sets a target of 75% of patients who have been urgently referred by their GP for suspected cancer to be diagnosed or ruled out cancer within 28 days by March 2024.
– Diagnostic tests
Almost 400,000 people in England were waiting more than six weeks for a key diagnostic test in March.
Some 389,855 patients – 25% of the total – were waiting more than six weeks for one of 15 standard tests, including an MRI, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy.
The equivalent number in March 2021 was 305,061 (24% of the total), while in March 2020 there were 85,749 (10%).
The elective recovery plan sets the ambition that 95% of patients needing a diagnostic test will receive it within six weeks by March 2025.