House of Commons Library

NHS Key Statistics: England, October 2019

Published Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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.

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The NHS in England continues to experience increased demand pressures

The waiting list for treatment has grown to record levels of 4.5 million

  • The number of emergency admissions to hospital in the first six months of 2019/20 was 3.7% higher than the same period last year.
  • The number of attendances at major A&E departments in the first six months of 2019/20 was 4.1% higher than the same period last year.
  • The waiting list for hospital treatment has risen by 40% over five years.
  • The number of urgent GP referrals with suspected cancer has doubled since 2011.
  • The number of diagnostic tests performed has increased by 28% in the last five years.


Performance on many waiting times measures continues to decline

4-hour waits in hospital A&E departments have become more common

  • In 2018/19, 18.5% of people attending hospital A&E spent longer than 4 hours in the department, compared with 6.5% five years ago. The summer months usually see better performance, but this effect was much more limited in 2019.
  • The waiting time measure for consultant-led treatment is now at 23.7 weeks, and has been above the 18-week target since early 2016.
  • The number of 'trolley waits' (long waits for admission to hospital) was five times higher in 2018-19 than in 2012-13.
  • 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. So far in 2019/20, performance on all cancer waiting time measures has been lower than in previous years.


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

  • The number of delayed discharges has fallen by 21% over the past three years, after a sustained rise between 2014 and 2016. 
  • The number of NHS hospital and community staff has risen by 3.2% in the past year
  • However, the number of permanent qualified GPs is estimated to have fallen by 6% since 2015.

The number of delayed discharges from hospital has fallen over the past two years.

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

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