The NHS and social care systems are facing significant financial challenges as a consequence of an ageing and growing population.

Although health spending has been protected relative to other public services, the NHS is required to find £22 billion of annual efficiency savings by 2020/21. There are concerns that increasing demand for health services and pressure on local authority budgets are threatening the financial stability and sustainability of the health and social care systems.

The House of Commons Library has produced a range of briefings on NHS and social care funding:

The briefing paper NHS Indicators has statistics on the key trends in recent NHS performance. These include:

  • A&E attendances in 2016 have been 5% higher than in 2015. The number of emergency admissions rose by 4.5%
  • 21% of patients spent more than 4 hours in major A&E departments in Dec 2016, compared with 13% in Dec 2015 and 6% in Dec 2011
  • Long waits for emergency admissions were 58% higher in 2016 than in 2015, and five times higher than 2011
  • There were 23% more delayed transfers of care in 2016 than in 2015. Social care delays rose by 37%. Delays due to waits for homecare rose by 45%
  • The waiting list for routine treatment grew 11% to 3.66 million between Dec 2015 and Dec 2016
  • 92% of those waiting for treatment had been waiting for 20 weeks or less – above the target of 18 weeks
  • More cancer waiting times targets continue to be met. The 62-day treatment target (85%) has not been met since Dec 2015
  • Urgent ambulance calls rose 16% in 2016. The 8-minute ambulance response target (75%) has not been met since May 2015
  • Waiting times targets for mental health talking therapy treatments continue to be met, with performance improving in October
  • The number of GPs is estimated to have fallen by 3% between 2014 and 2015
  • In the year to Oct 2016, the number of hospital doctors rose by 1.7% and the number of hospital nurses rose by 0.8%


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