House of Commons Library

NHS Key Statistics: England, October 2018

Published Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Summary of NHS demand, performance and capacity of services in England. Covers A&E statistics, waiting lists, ambulance data, delayed discharges, staffing levels including doctors and nurses, and more.

Jump to full report >>

The NHS in England has experience increased demand pressures in recent years

Emergency admissions to hospital in England since 2011/12

  • The number of emergency admissions to hospital has risen by 22% over five years.
  • There are an average of 2,850 more hospital A&E attendaces each day than five years ago.
  • The waiting list for treatment has risen by 48% over five years.
  • The number of urgent GP referrals with suspected cancer has risen by 59% in the last five years.
  • The number of diagnostic tests performed has increased by 31% in the last five years.
  • The number of elective general & acute admissions to hospital has risen by 11% in the last five years.


Performance on many waiting times measures has declined

A&E four hour performance decline

The graphic below shows performance against the A&E 4-hour target since 2011 - this measures performance at all departments, including minor A&E facilities. Each square represents a month, and the colour shows the percentage of patients waiting over 4 hours in that month.

A&E 4 hour performance decline

  • One in six attendees at hospital A&E spent longer than 4 hours in the department in 2017/18, compared with one in sixteen in 2012/13.
  • The waiting time measure for consultant-led treatment is now at 21.6 weeks, and has been above the 18-week target since early 2016.
  • The number of 'trolley waits' for admission has quadrupled over five years.
  • Cancer waiting times have risen. The target for people to be treated within two months of an urgent GP referral has not been met consistently since 2013. In recent months, the 14-day target for a first consultant appointment has also not been met.
  • Pressures over winter 2017/18 lead to a record number of cancelled elective operations in the first three months of 2018. This only includes operations cancelled at the last minute, so does not include the widespread planned cancellations an reductions in elective activity.

 Cancelled elective operations rise


Improvement is evident on some measures, and staff numbers have increased in most categories

Delayed discharges fall

  • The number of delayed discharges has fallen by almsot a quarter in the past year, after a sustained rise between 2014 and 2016. Delays due to social care have fallen by more than a third since October 2016.
  • The number of hospital doctors continues to rise - 2,800 have been added to the workforce in the last year and their number has risen by 11% over five years.
  • However, the number of GPs is estimated to have fallen by 6% since 2015.


The full PDF briefing paper examines trends in the following areas:

  • Accident & Emergency attendance and performance
  • Ambulance demand and response times
  • Waiting times and waiting lists for routine treatment
  • Waiting times for cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • Cancelled operations
  • Delayed discharges and transfers of care
  • Diagnostic waiting times and activity
  • Waiting times for mental health treatment
  • Workforce numbers for doctors, nurses and other staff
  • Hospital activity, referrals and admissions
  • Bed availability and occupancy

For information on NHS funding and expenditure, please see our separate briefing. Similarly, for information on NHS mental health services, see our briefing on that topic.


Health is a devolved area. These statistics relate to the NHS in England only.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7281

Author: Carl Baker

Topics: Ambulance services, Health services, Health staff and professions

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.