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Latest figures show that only 85.1 per cent of patients were seen in the targeted four hours in A&E departments, the worst waits since the targets introduction in 2014.
This means that more than 300,000 patients waited longer than they should, as the NHS missed its 95 per cent target amid rising pressures on the service this winter.
Figures also show that in the week ending 7 January, 16,690 patients were kept in the back of an ambulance for more than 30 minutes while they waited for space in A&E. Additionally, some 5,082 were delayed for more than an hour, an increase from 4,734 the previous week.
The figures coincide with reports that hospitals have run out of beds and cannot cope with the increasing influx of patients and that thousands of ambulances had been left stuck outside accident and emergency departments over the winter because there were no staff available to receive their patients.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, has warned that the NHS is at a ‘watershed moment’ and has urged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to supply long-term funding.
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