Significant A&E demand continues for NHS amid increasing strike pressure

The hottest June on record saw heightened demand for urgent and emergency services, as staff managed more A&E attendances and saw the second highest number of the most serious ambulance incidents (category 1) for any June.

Ambulance response times across all categories have seen improvements on last year, with paramedics reaching category 2 patients an average of 15 minutes faster than in June 2022. A&E four-hour performance has also improved compared to last year (73.3% vs 72.1%).

Local NHS teams continue to work to boost capacity and relieve pressure in line with the urgent and emergency care recovery plan launched earlier this year with thousands more beds, hundreds of new ambulances, and measures to better care for patients at home and in the community.

New data shows NHS staff are continuing to make significant progress in reducing the longest waits for treatment with 18 month waits down to 7,363 as of 2 July – a reduction of a third since April (10,979.)

More diagnostic tests and checks were delivered for patients than in any May on record (2,187,933), up more than 13% on pre-pandemic (1,929,255 in May 2019), with the average diagnostic waiting time reduced to three weeks.

In May, NHS staff carried out almost a quarter of a million checks for suspected cancer (245,595), up 13% on the month before (218,060) meaning in the last year around 2.9 million (2,893,037) people have now been checked for cancer. The number of patients starting cancer treatment is up almost a fifth on the month before to 28,453.

A major period of industrial action started today with five days of strike action by junior doctors to take place, followed by the first walk-out by consultants in more than a decade and action by radiographers at the end of the month.

People who need NHS care should continue to use services as they usually would, calling 999 or going to A&E in a life-threatening emergency and using NHS 111 online for other health concerns.

Patients should attend appointments as normal unless they have been contacted to say otherwise, and community services such as GPs and pharmacies can be used as usual.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “Every new month brings more evidence of record demand across many areas of NHS care with staff experiencing the busiest June ever for A&E attendances, no doubt exacerbated by the record high temperatures experienced for that month.

“This ongoing pressure on services is precisely why it is so important to highlight that staff continue to make progress in reducing the longest waits for care despite strikes, high demand, and bank holiday weekends.
“Today we enter an incredibly challenging period of industrial action, with the longest junior doctor strike action so far followed by a consultant walk-out and the added impact of radiographers striking at the end of the month. So while staff will continue to work hard to provide patients with the care they need there is no doubt this period of action is likely to have the biggest impact yet.

“I encourage people to still seek the care they usually would, calling 999 or visiting A&E in a life-threatening emergency and using NHS 111 online for other health conditions, while attending any scheduled appointments they have planned unless they have been told otherwise.”

Further information is available on the statistical work areas of the NHS England website.