BMA: NHS has suffered worst winter on record

2 May 19

The NHS has “plunged deeper into crisis” after services reported the worst performance rates on record over the winter period, a trade body has found.

The British Medical Association has found that cancer treatment services experienced their worst ever performance this winter, with almost a quarter of cancer patients waiting more than two months for treatment after an urgent referral.

BMA analysis of NHS England figures found that only 76.2% of cancer patients were seen within the 62 day target for urgent cancer referrals. A total of 6,240 people waited beyond the target – a rise of 39% on last year, making it the worst performance on record.

The analysis on cancer pressures refers to data collected in January and February, as March 2019 figures are not yet available.

BMA’s research on emergency and hospital care, based on figures from January to March, showed that one in four patients were left waiting more than four hours to be seen at major emergency care units. This is the second worst performance quarter on record, the report said.

Overall 85.1% of patients were seen within the four-hour target, only 0.1% better than the worst figures on record last winter.

The BMA noted that February 2019 was the single worst month since records began with only 75.7% of patients at major accident and emergency departments being seen within the required target time.

Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “Behind these statistics, which show the NHS plunged deeper into crisis this winter, are stories of real lives in distress. Forcing a patient to wait two months for their first cancer treatment is shameful for a leading nation and as a doctor, I can imagine only too well the distress this will cause to them and their families.

“The government needs to realise that the crisis in the NHS is not going away as our health service struggles in an underfunded and understaffed environment against a backdrop of rising patient demand.”

Nick Ville, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said:We need to take a step back to understand why this winter has been so challenging and look at the ways we can relieve pressure on the NHS.

“Part of the solution will undoubtedly lie in implementing the NHS’s Long Term Plan, directing more investment towards primary, community and social care services and working at pace to join up local health and care services to provide new ways of care.”

But Ville noted that there was still a need for capital investment in hospitals to be outlined in the Spending Review.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Improving cancer care and reducing waits continues to be a priority for the NHS, and there is always further to go. Record numbers of people are receiving life saving treatment for cancer, and over a million more people a year are being urgently referred for suspected cancer compared to ten years ago.”

Did you enjoy this article?