More patients treated more quickly despite surge in demand

Hard-working NHS staff treated more patients more quickly despite a surge in demand for Emergency Department (ED) services in the early winter period, putting the country’s health service in good stead as we embark on our ambitious Long Term Plan.

The latest statistics on the performance of NHS trusts show 5.4 million patients were treated and discharged in ED within four hours between October and December 2018 — 107,000 more patients than the same period last year. 

This was despite EDs admitting 785 more patients a day during the quarter compared to the same period last year (a 6.1% increase). 

This achievement is due to work to reduce the number of patients spending long periods in hospital, helping to free up beds for those that need them most. The number of patients spending more than 21 days in hospital fell by 1,950 over the quarter.  

Hospitals were also able to plan better for winter pressures, thanks to the extra £145 million of funding which helped make more beds available. 

The performance of the NHS provider sector published today also reveals that hospitals have made £2.1 billion of efficiency savings since last April. This was achieved through initiatives such as reducing the NHS’s spend on agency staff and by using cheaper medicines that deliver the same outcomes for patients. 

'NHS staff treated record numbers of emergency patients during the early winter period despite a surge in demand for ED services. 

'The NHS Long Term Plan will give hard-working staff the support they need to treat patients quicker and continue to provide a world-class service.'

Ian Dalton, Chief Executive, NHS Improvement

Today’s figures show the NHS’s focus on treating the high numbers of patients across urgent and emergency services was one of the key reasons why the provider sector as a whole reported a year-to-date deficit of £1.2 billion. This is £261 million more than planned but £34 million better than the same period last year. 

We continues to work with the trusts that are in deficit to achieve their plans. The NHS Long Term Plan will help trusts eradicate their deficits by 2023 by providing more support to acute hospitals where most of the deficit is concentrated.

The NHS was able to reinvest £2.1 billon into patient care this quarter by becoming more efficient. This was achieved through initiatives such as reducing the NHS’s spend on agency staff and by using cheaper medicines that deliver the same outcomes for patients. 

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