Today, Junior Doctors in hospitals in England are taking strike action. Underfunded and under valued by successive UK Governments the NHS in England is at crisis point.

The waiting list for hospital treatment in England rose to a record of 7.2 million in January 2023. The 18-week treatment target has not been met since 2016.

In December 2022 a new record was reported for patients in England waiting more than 4 hours in A&E of 50.4%. In February 2023 71.5% of patients were seen within 4 hours in all A&E departments. The 95% standard was last met in July 2015.

There were 127,000 four-hour delays from decision to admit to admission in February 2023. Of these, 35,000 were delayed over twelve hours. The number of patients waiting over 12 hours for admission after a decision to admit has increased substantially over the past two years. 

CANCER – NHS England

graph showing NHS waiting times for cancer treatment in NHS England after GP referral

The 62-day waiting time standard for cancer treatment (measured from urgent GP referral) has not been met.  In December 2022 only 54.4% of patients waited under 62 days for treatment after an urgent GP referral, compared with an target of 85%. This was another record low.

Ambulance response times have risen, with the average response to a Category 2 call (for e.g. suspected heart attacks and strokes) at over 1 hour 30 minutes in December 2022 compared with a target of 18 minutes.

These figures are shocking and are proof positive of how our NHS is not safe in Tory hands,

But, NHS Scotland is separate – it is a power reserved to the Scottish Government. HOWEVER if funding is cut (in real terms) to the NHS in England it has a knock on effect to funding in Scotland – and those cuts by a UK Government to the NHS in England have to be mitigated in Scotland. The money has to come from other areas of the Scottish Budget .

The Figures for NHS Scotland

During February 2023:

There were 110,807 attendances at A&E services in Scotland. Since 2007, the national standard for A&E is that 95% of patients to wait no longer than 4 hours from arrival to admission, discharge or transfer for A&E treatment. 

  • 69.7% of attendances at A&E services were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours.
  • 10,709 (10%) patients spent more than 8 hours in an A&E department.
  • 4,751 (4.4%) patients spent more than 12 hours in an A&E department.
  • 25.3% of attendances led to an admission to hospital.

CANCER – NHS Scotland

In Scotland the 62 day standard states that 95% of eligible patients should wait no longer than 62 days from urgent suspicion of cancer referral to first cancer treatment. The 62-day standard was not met by any NHS Health Boards. 71.7% of patients started treatment within the 62-day standard. The 62-day standard applies to patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer by a primary care clinician/general dental physician, patients referred by one of the national cancer screening programmes, and direct referrals to hospital where the signs and symptoms are consistent with the cancer diagnosed, as per the Scottish Referral Guidelines e.g. self-referral to A&E.

The 31-day standard states that 95% of all patients should wait no more than 31 days from decision to treat to first cancer treatment. The 31-day standard was met by 9 of the 15 NHS Boards: NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Borders, NHS Dumfries & Galloway, NHS Forth Valley, Golden Jubilee National Hospital, NHS Grampian, NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland and NHS Western Isles. 94.1% of patients started treatment within the 31-day standard. The 31-day standard applies to all patients, regardless of the route of referral.

infographic on waiting times for cancer treatment

In more detail for the period October to December 2022 – Performance against the 62-day standard from receipt of an urgent referral with suspicion of cancer to first cancer treatment by NHS Board and regional Cancer Network for all cancer types recorded

graph of the period
Performance against the 62-day standard from receipt of an urgent referral with suspicion of cancer to first cancer treatment by NHS Board and regional Cancer Network for all cancer types recorded. Period October to December 2022

All these figures are extremely concerning. And yes, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect the performance of NHS services because Covid patients have to be isolated when in hospital. 1,299 patients in hospital with #COVID: Slight decrease on previous week

But we should also be thinking about the number of excess deaths which have been consistently high #Covid Related Deaths 6th April 2023. This is partly due to people being anxious about going for treatment and other factors, as we have seen above from the waiting times, delaying the service they should be getting from our NHS.

Tory politicians in Scotland consistently attack the Scottish Government on the performance of NHS Scotland. Tories who are part and parcel of the very same party running the NHS in England into the ground.

Michael Matheson is now the Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care in the Scottish Government. First Minister Humza Yousaf has promised that his government will be ” radical, ambitious and progressive”.

Tackling the despondency being felt by NHS staff exhausted after having dealt with a gruelling 3 years of Covid and its aftermath and making sure services are funded as they should be will be the toughest test his government will be facing over the coming months.

Fiona Grahame

man wearing blue scrub suit and mask sitting on bench
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

3 replies »

  1. Thank goodness we live in Scotland with a well run, accountable and economically prudent government.

  2. Well said Tom but I guess we will see the more and more of the services fall into private hands before this Tory government is through
    Let’s hope I’m wrong

  3. You’re not wrong Ian Carse, but let’s hope they are contained within their own borders. Those borders they sought to protect by inflicting Brexit on all of us. I’m not too sure that a new Labour government will do anything that different from the Tories.

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