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News archive - February/March 2012

Waiting times and infection rates on track

Waiting times and infection rates on track

DESPITE the financial pressures it is facing, NHS performance is continuing to hold up, according to the latest quarterly monitoring report from the King’s Fund. Key indicators for waiting times and infection rates remain on track, although national statistics do mask significant variation in performance between hospitals.

This quarter’s report focuses on delays in transferring patients out of hospital. It finds that the number of patients experiencing delayed transfers of care has fallen to its lowest level since this data has been collected. In December 2011, 3,659 patients experienced a delayed transfer of care, a 5.6% fall on the same month last year. The total number of days delayed fell to 112,999, a 3% fall on December 2010 (although the average delay increased slightly to 31 days).

The findings suggest that additional funding provided by the government to promote joint working between health and social care services has had a positive impact. There is local variation however, with ten out of the 23 NHS finance directors questioned for the report indicating that delayed discharges are increasing in their local health economy.

Many NHS organisations are using ‘demand management’ techniques to meet productivity targets. Fifteen of the 23-strong panel indicated that their organisation is restricting funding for certain procedures of services and 16 said that they are taking steps to manage referrals from GPs.

  • 16 of the 23 finance directors are confident of meeting productivity targets, with six concerned about this.
  • 15 of the panel expect their organisation to be in surplus at the end of the financial year, with five expecting to break even and three forecasting a deficit.
  • Only four of the panel were optimistic about the financial position of their local health economy, with 13 pessimistic about this.

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