A critique of NHS NHS records over the past 20 years reveals that key targets for A&E, cancer, and waiting times for planned care have been missed for a total of over 100 years. The targets were rolled out during the 2000s and each country decides how they are measured. England last hit key NHS targets in July 2015 for A&E, December 2015 for cancer, and February 2016 for planned care. In Scotland, the targets were last hit in July 2020 for A&E, December 2012 for cancer, and June 2014 for planned care. In Wales, the targets were never reached for A&E, last hit in August 2010 for cancer and planned care. In Northern Ireland, the targets were never reached for A&E, last hit in March 2009 for cancer, and March 2013 for planned care. The length of time the targets have been missed is causing concern, with the King’s Fund think tank describing it as “incredible” and the Patients Association stating that the NHS is in a “permacrisis.”
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland and the Welsh Government have both acknowledged the unacceptable waiting times and have work underway to address the issue. The Welsh Government is investing extra money and focusing on patients with urgent needs and those who have waited the longest. The NHS in England has stated that progress is being made, with the number of patients facing long waits reducing and signs that the NHS is coping better this winter than last.