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NHSS England says new figures prove that NHS staff provided timely, high quality care to a record numbers of people in England this winter.
The newly published data indicates that the hard work of frontline staff, combined with ongoing improvements to how the NHS provides care, meant over 380,000 more patients were treated within four hours in A&E than over winter last year, overall A&E performance improved, and long waits for routine surgery fell for the eighth month in a row.
Equally, more people received the support they needed to avoid a long stay in hospital, bed occupancy rates were lower, and hospitals delivered over three million planned operations and treatments, without the need for national cancellation of routine care.
Meanwhile, ambulance services improved their average response time to Category 1 incidents over December to March by one minute and 24 seconds, or 16.4 per cent, while Category 2 incident response times improved by four minutes and 48 seconds (17.6 per cent).
And despite taking 54,000 more patients to hospital than last year (December to February), 17,250 fewer experienced a long (30 minutes or more) wait to be signed over from the care of ambulance crews to hospital staff.
However, further reading into the statistics show that almost three million patients in England waited more than four hours to be dealt with by A&E last year, the highest number since records began 16 years ago.
Figures show that 88 per cent of patients were dealt with in four hours or less in 2018-19, the lowest-ever level, down from 88.3 per cent in 2017-18.
Pauline Philip, national director of Emergency and Elective Care said: “Throughout the NHS, staff have worked tirelessly to deliver the improvements we’ve seen for patients this winter, putting in place new and improved services, delivering a record number of flu jabs and providing care directly to a record number of people. Millions of people in England who have benefited from NHS care and advice this last few months will therefore want to join me in paying thanks to all health service staff for their exceptional efforts.”
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “The country rightly owes our NHS staff enormous gratitude for these undoubted improvements in care over this past winter, while at the same time recognising the intense and continuing pressure under which frontline NHS services continue to have to operate.”
However, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, claimed the figures were 'the worst A&E performance on record'.
He said: “Tory mismanagement of the NHS has led to the worst annual A&E performance on record. Patients are being forced to wait longer in pain and distress, and this seriously risks their health deteriorating further. Today’s stats also show that last month, the number of patients waiting for treatment increased, some key ambulance targets weren’t met, and the target for patients receiving diagnostic tests were also missed.
“The government has spent nine years running down the NHS, imposing the biggest funding squeeze in its history, with swingeing cuts to public health services and social care slashed by £7 billion since 2010. The NHS is clearly buckling under pressure as a result, and standards of care continue to plummet under the Tories. Only Labour can rebuild our NHS.”
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