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NHS England’s performance against the four-hour A&E waiting time targets in November 2019 was the worst since the figures started being collected in 2010. NHS England was also below its operational standards for elective referral and cancer referral and treatment waiting times in November 2019. The 62-day maximum waiting time target between urgent GP referral and first cancer treatment was last met in 2013/14. NHS England is currently reviewing changes to these targets. In addition to targets, NHS England also set out care priorities, and other priority areas of focus for the NHS, in its Long Term Plan. These cover clinical areas such as maternal health, mental health, diabetes and learning disabilities. They also include efforts to improve efficiency within the NHS as a whole; for example, the better use of land and equipment.

An additional pressure on its services cited by NHS England is adult social care. It has been reported that delayed transfers of care, where a patient is unable to leave NHS care for some reason, can impact upon other areas of the service, including A&E departments. In addition, some claim that reduced funding for social care can lead to increased hospital admissions. In a recent survey of NHS leaders, the majority agreed that issues in social care were affecting the NHS and patient care.

The Government has stated that it intends to publish plans to reform the adult social care system later this year.

This briefing summarises NHS England’s performance against particular targets, including accident and emergency (A&E) waiting times and cancer treatment targets and highlights some of NHS England’s priorities, as set out in the January 2019 Long Term Plan. The briefing also summarises pressures in the adult social care system and how this can affect those in the health service, and lists further reading on proposed reforms to adult social care. Both health and social care are devolved matters, and this briefing covers the situation in England only.


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