THE shocking latest NHS performance figures, amongst the worst released by NHS England show that, despite the Government’s ambition for the health service outlined in its long term plan for the NHS, the stark reality for both doctors and patients is a system in deep crisis.

With over 304,000 patients waiting more than four hours in major emergency departments — an increase of 38 per cent since last year — and with the number of trolley waits of over four hours rising by 39 per cent since last April, patients are suffering.

The figures for cancer care are equally worrying; the numbers of patients seen by a specialist within two weeks of an urgent GP referral and the numbers treated within two months have both fallen.

Just last week the BMA warned that cancer services had been plunged into the worst winter ever, and these new figures confirm that this decline has continued into March.

The first three months of this year were the worst on record for cancer treatment waiting times with over 43,000 patients waiting over two weeks to see a specialist and almost 9,000 waiting over two months to begin treatment.

Grim as these are, what the statistics don’t show is the huge burden the NHS is under with significant under investment, staff shortages and rising patient demand impacting on patient care and outcomes, and on the morale and health of front line hospital staff who are struggling to keep the NHS on its feet.

The BMA has repeatedly highlighted these issues and pressed the government to provide sufficient funding.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association chairman