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”.