Responding the latest NHS performance figures for England, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The figures present a striking picture of the huge challenge the NHS continues to face in delivering care in the context of a global pandemic, which is now in its second surge.
“Frontline staff and leaders are doing everything they can to provide services for patients, and this is shown in the month-on-month increases in referrals and routine treatments, but they face an uphill struggle.
“Ward sizes and productivity continue in many places to be restricted due to the necessary infection control measures; many staff are unable to return to work due to self-isolation requirements that are made worse by a test and trace system that is riddled with problems; and services must maintain capacity to support growing coronavirus admissions. Added to that, we have staff vacancies in the region of 84,400.
“Given these colossal challenges, it is simply not possible for the NHS to return to a near-normal service straightaway, despite everything that is being done, and we need honesty from our political leaders regarding this, as well as a clear commitment to help the NHS longer term.
“In our recent survey, nine out of ten NHS leaders told us that a lack of funding will be a significant barrier to delivering waiting time standards for patients and fewer than one in ten said their current funding allows them to deliver safe and effective services. With the Comprehensive Spending Review approaching, these figures present further evidence on the need for additional long-term investment in the NHS as it is clear that the settlement that was made in 2018 was for a very different era.”
NHS Test and Trace stats
Responding to the latest test and trace figures for England, Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said: “If the test and trace system does not improve its ability to contact people who may have COVID-19 in time to prevent them infecting other people, the NHS will find it incredibly difficult to cope this winter. The fact that new lockdown measures could be brought in imminently is unfortunately an indication that the current system simply isn’t doing its job.
“New cases are now seven times higher than they were at the end of August, an even bigger jump than the previous week, when new cases had quadrupled. What’s more, this data does not yet reflect the cases missed by the recent IT error. And it is concerning that we are now seeing more and more cases requiring hospital admission.
“While testing capacity increases will be helpful, the big issues right now are the fact that turnaround times for results are increasing, and that the percentage of people reached and asked to self-isolate, taking into account all contacts identified, has fallen once again to 68.6 per cent. The result will be more cases inadvertently spread by people who have not been successfully contacted.
“The NHS and its staff continue to work hard resume normal services that had to be paused, while caring for rapidly growing numbers of COVID patients. An effective and efficient test and trace system is vital to allow them to care for the population.”