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RCP responds to the latest NHS perfomance stats

Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, has responded to the latest monthly NHS performance data showing that for the first time since December 2022, the total waiting list for treatment in England fell slightly in October 2023 to 7.71 million.  

“The fall in waiting lists is a welcome step in the right direction and one that would not be possible without the continued efforts of NHS staff who are providing excellent care in difficult and challenging environments. But as we said last month, rising seasonal demand only highlights that we do not have sufficient capacity or resourcing of the health and social care system year-round.

“We know from our members that pressure is growing, with patient need and demand regularly outstripping service capacity in many services across the country. More than 2 million people attended emergency departments (EDs) in November and with 42,854 people waiting in EDs for longer than 12 hours following the decision to be admitted into hospital, this highlights again that there are not enough readily available beds when patients need them.

“Bed occupancy rates in November 2023 rose to almost 95%, a 3-percentage point increase since the summer months and significantly higher than the recommended limit of 85%. As winter pressures grow, doctors are also tackling a spike in seasonal viruses, with the number of people in hospital with flu up 53% last week on the week before, while cases of norovirus were recently reported as almost triple the number during the same period last winter. Additionally, there continues to be challenges with discharging patients from hospital, reflecting the pressures in community settings.

“Many hospitals and trusts will again be concerned about their capacity this winter, with pressures having knock-on effects for flow throughout the system. Ensuring staff feel supported through these pressured times must be a priority - especially with further rounds of industrial action due to take place. We again urge the government to take the lead in bringing the ongoing industrial action to an end.”