Ambulances filmed queuing exterior Essex hospital A&E as NHS disaster deepens

London England. Hospitals in the UK have been advised to postpone all non-urgent operations until the end of January as the NHS

Image The NHS is experiencing what has been described as a winter crisis

The figures showed that just 78% of patients across Scotland were either admitted, transferred or discharged within the four-hour target time of 95% - the lowest since weekly figures began in February 2015.

Ms Sturgeon responded that "hundreds of additional winter surge beds" had been set up in hospitals as part of NHS winter planning.

So far this year, more than 5,000 people have been forced to wait more than an hour to be seen in emergency departments in England, official figures show.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard highlighted the case of 80-year-old Tom Wilson from Newtongrage in Midlothian, who he said waited more than three hours for an ambulance after a fall on New Year's Day.

The Gazette also reported yesterday how so-called bed-blocking - when patients are well enough to leave and want to do so but can not due to a lack of social care provision - is adding to the strain on hospital wards.

"Patient care is acutely suffering because of this Government's chronic underfunding of our NHS, which has left 92,000 patients languishing in the back of ambulances and staff vacancies of over 100,000".

"During this time pressures on our services led to an unusually large number of A and E breaches".

"This current level of safety compromise is at times intolerable, despite the best efforts of staff". I am not standing here saying...that some patients are not waiting longer during these winter times than we would want them to wait.

He added that because fewer patients with more minor conditions were coming to A&E it meant those in the emergency department had more complex needs and required "more care and attention from our senior clinical teams prior to admission to ensure they get the best possible care".

"This situation fluctuates, as this week we have seen a significant improvement in our ambulance handover times".

This month, New Cross Hospital, Walsall Manor Hospital, Sandwell General Hospital, Russells Hall Hospital and County Hospital were all ordered to cancel operations in a bid to free up beds and medical staff.

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Other issues raised in the letter, first reported in the Health Service Journal, include patients waiting up to 12 hours for a bed after doctors had made a decision to admit them, with queues of 50 patients waiting in one emergency department.

The number doubled the prior figure of 24 deaths this winter, upping the total to 48.

The facts remain however that the NHS is severely and chronically underfunded.

"Some of our own personal experiences range from over 120 patients a day managed in corridors, some dying prematurely".

Answering questions after a speech in south London on Thursday, Mrs May said flu was putting extra pressure on services.

A spokesman for The Save Weston A&E Campaign, which has been pushing for A&E to reopen overnight, said: "We feel deeply sorry for Mrs Thomas and her family and wish her a quick and full recovery, but we are also well aware of the very hard conditions under which dedicated NHS staff at Weston General are having to work".

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "We know the NHS is extremely busy, which is why it was given top priority in the recent Budget with an extra £2.8 billion allocated over the next two years - and despite the extra pressure that comes with winter, including rising flu levels, hardworking staff treated 55,328 people within four hours every single day in December - 1,272 more each day than in the same month the previous year".

"The NHS today has launched their national flu programme and I would encourage people to act on the advice that the NHS is giving and also encourage NHS staff who haven't had the flu vaccine yet to have that vaccine".

"Despite these challenges, over 82 per cent of patients were still seen within the four-hour target in Scotland's core A&Es throughout December, compared to 77.3 per cent in England".

The Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt last week repeatedly claimed the NHS is better prepared than ever before this winter. There are 25 or more ambulances and urgent patients waiting outside at this hospital alone.

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