Routine procedure being performed

Busiest September on record experienced by the NHS

As the NHS continues to deal with the treatment backlog, alongside mounting annual non-urgent care need as we approach the winter period, new figures show it experienced the busiest September on record.

During September, major A&E departments treated over 1.39 million people – the highest ever for the month, all while staff continued to care for thousands of Covid-19 patients around the country.

The new figures also showed 1.1 million elective procedures were carried out by staff in August, up by one third compared to the same period last year.

This was despite the health service admitting 23,000 Covid-19 patients in August – 14 times higher than the same month in 2020.

As well, NHS figures showed a reduction in the number of patients waiting for a diagnostic scan for the first time this year, meaning more people are now getting the checks they need. This follows the rollout of NHS diagnostic centres last month, which were backed by fresh funding to help the NHS tackle the backlog.

Ambulance responded to a record 76,000 life threatening callouts – an increase of more than 20,000 on the previous high for September. Meanwhile, 999 took nearly one million calls in September.

NHS 111 also saw record demand taking a call ever 7 seconds and over 1.9 million calls in total across August. The NHS has invested an additional £23m in NHS 111 to help the service meet the increased demand.

Figures released earlier this month showed GPs were also facing record demand with 24 million appointments taking place – above pre-pandemic levels. To support this, a £250m winter access fund has been announced.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director said: “There is no doubt the NHS is running hot, with the highest ever number of patients seen in A&E in September 14-times as many covid patients in hospital compared to the same month last year and record 999 ambulance calls.

“But despite the busiest September on record, NHS staff have moved heaven and earth to make the best possible use of additional investment delivering millions more tests, checks, treatments and operations.

“That is why it is really important people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell.

“Anyone needing help should come forward through 111 online so that staff can help you with the best option for your care, and it remains as important as ever to get your lifesaving Covid jab, and with winter approaching, to get your flu jab too”.

NHE Sept/Oct 21

NHE Sept/Oct 21

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Join us in our September/October edition of National Health Executive, as we explore a range of topics impacting and improving the care that we can deliver to patients, the facilities within which we deliver them, and the opportunities in the digital space to accent and evolve our care capabilities


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The integration of new technology, such as using virtual outpatient appointments instead of face-to-face reviews of patients in the hospital. Adapting the ways in which our NHS workers serve people has been critical in continuing to provide high-quality treatment, a positive patient experience and preventing Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic. Our healthcare sector has the potential to transform the way we continue to provide essential services while also improving patient care. But how easy is the integration of these innovations into routine NHS practice?

On the 28th of October, at the NHE365 Virtual Hospitals & Technology Enabled Care online event, we will be discussing patient flow and experience, reducing waiting times, reducing the patient backlog and increasing technology adoption. Will you be attending? 

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