Hospitals in England are overcrowded and eight accident and emergency units have had to turn away patients arriving in ambulances, the latest figures show.
NHS England’s first weekly report of the winter shows nearly 95% of beds are occupied. Anything above 85% is unsafe.
Ambulance crews are meant to be able to handover patients to A&E staff within 15 minutes of arrival – but in one in nine cases it took over 30 minutes.
An NHS England official said staff were “working hard” to keep up with demand.
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“As the colder weather begins to set in, it’s vital that the NHS and local authorities continue to work together to help people stay well and out of hospital wherever possible.
“The public can also help NHS staff by making sure they have their free flu jab if eligible and by using NHS 111 as their first port of call for non-emergencies.”
It is more than a year since any part of the UK has hit one of its three key targets – for:
- A&E waits
- cancer care
- hospital operations
The extra money announced by the government in the summer will not start reaching the front line until next year.