Today's data show COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on how people seek care Health Foundation response to NHS England monthly performance statistics

9 April 2020

Responding to the publication of the monthly NHS England performance statistics, Tim Gardner, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:

'The NHS and social care system is making heroic efforts to respond to the unprecedented challenge of coronavirus (COVID-19), and that is having a dramatic impact on how people seek care and the care that is being delivered. Having risen year-on-year since records began, today’s data show a substantial drop in A&E visits last month, with over 600,000 fewer people (a 29% drop) attending A&E compared to the same time last year and 120,000 fewer people being admitted. Meanwhile calls to NHS 111 have surged – there were more than twice as many last month compared to the same time last year.

'This suggests that many of those who might have attended A&E previously could be seeking clinical advice elsewhere, and that 111 is playing a critical role in advising people on how to access care. On the face of it, this may indicate that people are following the official advice to try to avoid going straight to A&E.

'It is important that people continue to stay at home as much as possible to slow the spread of the virus, reduce pressure on the NHS, and enable the service to tackle COVID-19 by treating those who are most seriously ill. However, people should continue to feel able to seek treatment for serious conditions and further work is needed to understand who is not coming to A&E and whether unmet needs are being stored up for the future.'

Further information

  • According to NHS England, 1,531,100 people attended A&E departments in England in March 2020, a 29.4% reduction on the 2,167,551 people who attended in March 2019.
  • There was a total of 427,921 emergency admissions in March 2020, a fall of 23.0% on the 555,457 emergency admissions in March 2019.
  • A total of 2,962,751 calls were made to NHS 111 in March 2020, more than double the 1,447,126 calls made in March 2019. Despite the increased number of calls, 111 advised fewer numbers of people to attend A&E and dispatched fewer ambulances than in March 2019.

Media contact

Creina Lilburne
07941 156827

Further reading


Responding to COVID-19


How the Health Foundation is supporting the UK's health and care system to deal with current...

Long read

NHS performance and waiting times

22 November 2019

About 8 mins to read

Long read

We explore how the NHS in England is performing and set out priorities for the next government.

You might also like...

Press release

Government must be honest about consequences of not introducing new COVID-19 measures for the NHS

Press release

Health Foundation response to the latest NHS performance statistics.

Press release

Government must be realistic about the time and resources needed to clear the NHS backlog

Press release

Health Foundation response to the publication of the Health and Social Care Select Committee's...

Newsletter feature

Understanding the scale of the pandemic recovery challenge: a year of work

Newsletter feature

We revisit a selection of our work from this year, sharing data, analysis and insights on the scale...

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Last winter we released a short film exploring the pandemic's impact on the mental wellbeing of NHS workers and hig…

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more