Patients will continue to ‘suffer enormously’ without help as NHS on ‘worrying trajectory’, warns BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA. 

Location: England
Published: Thursday 8 October 2020
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Responding to the latest set of NHS England performance figures1, which show that the number of people waiting over a year from treatment is the highest since 2008, and cancer waiting times are continuing to increase, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“This latest set of performance stats shows we are on an extremely worrying trajectory heading into winter, with patients continuing to suffer enormously. Routine NHS services are struggling to cope, let alone return to normal, contending with rising demand, winter pressures, and the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

“Alarmingly, the number of people waiting over a year for treatment is highest it has been in over a decade; 90 times as many people as last August and the first time this count has exceeded 100,000 since Sept 2008.

“The picture is equally bleak for cancer care with a drop in performance in almost all cancer waiting time targets, including the number of patients being seen by a consultant within 2 weeks of an urgent GP referral. This is incredibly distressing for the patients and their loved ones across the country who are simply not getting the care they need and deserve with potentially fatal consequences.

“With A&E trolley waits continuing to increase and performance against the four-hour wait target declining, there are very real concerns about how emergency departments will cope as we enter the even busier winter period on the backfoot.  

“Doctors are also concerned that the NHS has been given unrealistic targets for returning to near-normal levels of elective and outpatient activity, with today’s figures showing most services are still a long way off hitting these. The Government must guarantee that the NHS won’t be financially penalised for not meeting these targets - everyone in the NHS is working hard to return services to as close to normal as possible in what continues to be extremely challenging times.

“The BMA has consistently warned that the Government must do whatever it takes to ensure that the NHS can continue to deliver for patients. Now more than ever we urgently need a comprehensive plan, backed by appropriate funding not just across secondary, but for primary and community care, if our health service is reverse this worrying tide and survive the coming months and years.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Latest NHS England performance statistics.