In response to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) State of Care report, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “As this report acknowledges, NHS staff faced an unprecedented combination of pressures last year including a record 25.3 million A&E attendances, 14 million more GP appointments and tens of thousands more mental health appointments, all while more than 13,200 beds were occupied by patients who were medically fit to leave each day – a third more (34%) than the previous year.
“While the NHS has made improvements to maternity services over the last decade with fewer stillbirths and neonatal deaths, the NHS is also increasing investment to £186 million annually to grow our maternity workforce, strengthen leadership and improve culture, and working closely with select hospitals to ensure they make the necessary changes following recent maternity reviews, to ensure safer, more personalised and more equitable maternity care.
“Staff are also making good progress toward the aims of our recovery plans, including keeping the NHS on track to add 5,000 more core beds as part of our plans for urgent and emergency care for this winter, widening access to primary care for patients, and we are continuing to transform services – delivering on our ambition to roll out 10,000 virtual ward beds.
“However, as the CQC have said, industrial action has had an impact that cannot be ignored – hundreds of thousands of routine appointments had to be rescheduled during the year this report covers, but despite this, hardworking staff continue to bring down the longest waits – latest data shows more patients were treated in August than the same month before the pandemic.
“We don’t want anyone to put off coming forward for care or to think they are a burden on the NHS, like many did during the pandemic – so as ever, please come forward for the support you need.”