A record high of 241 patients waited over 12 hours to be admitted last week, according to the latest figures on accident and emergency performance from NHS England.

Figures for the week ending 4 January also showed that only 79.8 per cent of patients at major A&Es were treated, admitted or discharged within four hours.

This is a steep drop from the previous week, when 85.7 per cent of patients were treated within four hours.


The number of ambulances queuing outside A&Es more than doubled in the first week of January

Only 86.7 per cent of patients attending all types of A&Es, including walk-in centres and minor injury units, were treated within four hours.

University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust was responsible for 122 of the patients waiting over 12 hours to be admitted.

Chief executive Mark Hackett said that like “many other trusts we are currently experiencing significantly increased demand on our services”.

He said the trust will open an extra 138 beds between October 2014 and March 2015.

Nationally, the number of patients waiting more than four hours to be admitted also jumped up, with 16,324 waiting compared to 8,265 in the previous week.

Trusts struggled on several performance measures with ambulances queuing outside A&Es, an increase in delayed transfers of care and cancelled elective operations.

Demand on services has grown with emergency admissions up by 5.4 per cent and attendances up by 3.7 per cent in the first week of January compared to the same week last year.

The number of ambulances queued outside A&E departments more than doubled in the first weekend of January compared to the same point last year. Last weekend there were 4,848 ambulances waiting compared to 1,886 last year.

Delayed transfers of care increased by 31.1 per cent compared to the same week last year. There were 14,307 delays compared to 10,913 last year.

The demand on emergency departments also had an impact on elective care, with 1,328 planned operations cancelled last week, more than double the same week last year when 575 operations were cancelled.

At least 15 hospitals declared a “major incident” over the past week as the demand on A&Es rose to unsustainable levels.

Only seven trusts managed to meet the four hour target in the week ending 4 January.

Tim Gardner, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation, said that “greater demand for services” was placing “severe pressure on the NHS across the country, not least because an increasing proportion of the people arriving at A&E need to be admitted to hospital as an emergency”.

He added that there are “competing explanations” for why performance against the four hour target has “continued to deteriorate” but that “the cause is not entirely clear”.

“The NHS may have simply reached the upper limit of what it can achieve within its current configuration, while demand continues to rise.”

Sarah Pinto-Duschinsky, director of operations and delivery for NHS England, said the NHS continues to face “unprecedented demand on its frontline services” but that the £700m winter pressure funding has “bought 800 more doctors, nearly 5,000 more nurses, creating over 6,000 more beds”.

She added: “Flu is now at its highest peak for the last three winters, which is one of the reasons why over the new year holiday we continued to treat more patients than ever before.

“This means the NHS will continue to be under pressure for the next few weeks.”

The £700m was roughly split evenly between regions, with the largest allocation of £183.9m given to the North, £176.1m to the Midlands and East, £157.2m to the South and £101.5m to London.