The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.


HSJ’s story on rising waits for emergency care in London since mid-December explained how leaked information suggests there were a record number of 12-hour trolley waits (though probably underestimating the issue), and four-hour performance was at the trough of what has been seen before, even at normally well-performing trusts.

The issue is covid admissions swamping hospitals which are working with much reduced capacity, and in some cases having big problems getting patients discharged quickly to care facilities. It reinforces concerns about what will happen if admissions continue to rise and rise – as is augured by the currently surging case rates.

Jeremy Hunt, ex-health secretary, current Commons health committee chair and expert backbench badgerer of Boris Johnson over covid, cited it on Monday morning on Twitter, as he argued “it’s true that we often had to cancel elective care in January to protect emergency care but that too is under severe pressure, with record trolley waits for the very sickest patients”.

He argued: “My point is in the face of exponential growth even waiting an extra day [for lockdown measures] causes many avoidable deaths so these plans must now be urgently accelerated.”

Daily Insight now writes with the prime minister expected to announce new measures at 8pm on Monday, including closing schools, and hospitals hoping the admissions curve bends quickly.

* The number of covid positive patients in hospitals throughout the east region is now more than double what it was during the first wave of the pandemic.

On 3 January, the region was treating 3,395 covid inpatients, more than twice the 1,679 recorded on 12 April at the peak of the spring outbreak. The number of covid positive patients has risen by 43 per cent in the east of England during the last seven days. Read our latest covid data update here.