NHS winter pressures affecting 9% of people in England, survey finds

Ambulances outside Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley – which has been told to delay pre-planned operations

Robison said: "Health boards have worked to put in place robust winter contingency planning arrangements, which they've demonstrated in their response to exceptional winter pressures".

In addition, nearly half a million patients called the NHS 111 helpline last week, the highest number ever.

Around 5,600 patients waited beyond the targeted four-hour period to be admitted, transferred or discharged after reporting to the hospitals between Christmas Day and Hogmanay.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the latest figures "do not tell the extent of this crisis" with the spread of flu expected to get worse at the end of January leading to an expected rise in A&E attendance.

Two senior Lincolnshire A&E doctors have signed a letter telling Prime Minister Theresa May that some patients are dying in hospital corridors because staff are too busy to treat them.

Meanwhile trusts up and down the country are seeing no let up in pressure in the new year, with some fearing the worst is yet to come.

Liberal Democrat leader Mr Rennie said: "The pressure faced by the NHS has been coming for years, it was largely predictable".

Nearly one in ten people have been affected by severe winter pressures in the NHS, new polling shows.

Patients in need of emergency care during these hours are now taken to hospitals in Bristol and Taunton.

Nationally the picture is of an ongoing crisis as the figures show waiting time targets in accident and emergency departments have hit their lowest level in 14 years, with patients "dying prematurely" in their corridors before they are seen, according to some consultants.

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Hospitals are reportedly overcrowded, struggling to cope and running out of beds.

The Department of Health and Social Care in England said there was a "great deal of pressure" on A&E departments, but added that plans were in place to improve social care to free up hospital places as well as for the biggest expansion in doctor training places in the history of the NHS.

But in a stark warning, it adds: 'The facts remain, however, that the NHS is severely and chronically underfunded. We are also keen to hear from patients.

A hospital spokesman said: "We would like to extend our honest apologies to Esme Thomas and her family, and to all our patients who have had to spend much longer in A&E than normal waiting for a hospital bed".

NHS Forth Valley said it had been dealing with a "significant" increase in the number of patients with flu and other respiratory illnesses in the last few weeks, among other factors.

Questions have been asked in recent days about low flu immunisation uptake rates for NHS staff, with HPS again urging everyone who is eligible for vaccination to do so.

"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".

Royal College and the relevant arms length bodies.

The only exceptions to this are cancer operations and what the NHS called "time-critical procedures" where the surgery has to go ahead to avoid the patient's condition deteriorating further. That has gone to 107 per 100,000 - that is four times the level of flu in this week a year ago.

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