Map reveals worst performing NHS areas amid longest junior doctor strike in history

The NHS is failing to meet standards for cancer waiting times and ambulance reponse times in many areas of England

Jabed Ahmed
Monday 08 January 2024 13:47 GMT
Junior doctors strike is ‘toughest week NHS faces’ says Providers chief

The worst performing NHS areas have been revealed, with many regions in England failing to meet national standards.

Data from NHS England analysed by The Independent shows that across much of the country the NHS is struggling to meet patient demand on three categories; GP appointments, cancer treatment waiting times and 999 ambulance response times.

It comes as junior doctors continue strike action during one of the busiest times of the year with the NHS already grappling with increased pressure from winter viruses and a rise in people coming forward who delayed seeking help over the holidays.

Prior to the strike action, which finishes on 9 January, NHS leaders had warned the walk-out could lead to “the most difficult start to the year the NHS has ever faced”, with the number of operations and appointments topping 1 million last week.

The map below shows the number of GP appointments that took place more than 28 days after a patient asked for one in October 2023. Figures are broken down by the 42 NHS Integrated Care Boards (ICBs). The boards are regional groups that bring together health organisations to deliver NHS services.

Darker areas on the map show the boards with the highest number of patients waiting more than 28 days for a GP appointment.

The worst performing areas by proportion of patients waiting longer than 28 days for a GP appointment:

  1. Gloucestershire - 66,507 patients (14.6 per cent)
  2. Dorset - 76,037 patients (14.5 per cent)
  3. Somerset - 53,657 patients (14.4 per cent)
  4. Derby and Derbyshire - 90,410 (13.2 per cent)
  5. Norfolk and Waveney - 93,146 (13 per cent)

The searchable table below shows the percentage of cancer patients who were treated within a month of being diagnosed or told they required treatment. The NHS states 96 per cent of patients should be treated for cancer within 31 days. In October 2023 no area met the target.

The worst performing areas for cancer treatment waits were:

  1. Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland - 79.5 per cent
  2. Humber and North Yorkshire - 83.4 per cent
  3. Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin - 83.9 per cent

The table below shows the average ambulance response time to Category 1 and Category 2 calls - the two most serious types of emergency calls.

The national standard sets out all ambulance trusts must respond to Category 1 calls in 7 minutes on average, and for Category 2 in 18 minutes.

In November 2023, only North East Ambulance Service met the NHS standard for a Category 1 response, and no service met the standard for category 2 calls.

In recent years, multiple NHS trusts have been placed under “special measures” by the government, which are implemented when providers are deemed to have serious problems with the quality of care they provide.

As of January 2023, 20 NHS trusts were under the status.

In response to the figures on waiting times for GP appointmnets, NHS Gloucestershire, which was ranked worst in the country under the category, said it was doing “all we can to improve this position”.

A spokesperson also said it had seen a 28 per cent increase in appointments at GP practices from pre-Covid levels.

They added: “In Gloucestershire, as across England, GP surgeries are facing a record increase in patient contacts and primary care teams are going to incredible lengths in these challenging circumstances.

“We will continue to work closely with practices and primary care networks to share learning opportunities and improve access to services in all areas of the county.”

In Leicestershire, where cancer treatment waiting times were the worst in the country, Dr Nil Sanganee, chief medical officer at the region’s ICB, apologised to anyone experiencing a delay.

Expansions in surgery provision and closer working with East Midlands Cancer Alliance and NHS England were reducing the waits, he said.

He said: “The delays are due to a combination of factors, including an increased demand on services as we identify more patients with cancer and underlying capacity challenges.”

An NHS England spokesperson said: “The NHS is seeing and treating record numbers of people for cancer, with almost three million receiving potentially lifesaving cancer checks in the last year and 30% more starting treatment for cancer in 2022/23 than in 2015/16 – so more are being diagnosed at an early stage and cancer survival is the highest it’s ever been.

“While this record level of demand has inevitably had a knock-on impact, NHS staff are working hard to prioritise and treat the longest and most urgent cases, and over nine in 10 patients start their treatment within a month.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in