NHS hospitals in England record worst ever A&E performance

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Last week NHS England effectively abandoned the 95% four-hour target for at least a year, using a planning document circulated to hospital trusts to indicate it did not expect the figure to be met across the country until spring 2019.

Just 85.3 per cent of patients were treated within four hours, against a target of 95 per cent. The figure would have been much worse had Theresa May not announced a mass cancellation of routine treatments in England to ease pressure.

"We do have to think really differently".

The 77.1 per cent figure for Type 1 A&E departments, those staffed by consultants providing 24-7 emergency care, was the lowest on record, down from 77.3 in December. January's figure was even worse than December's - which broke records.

The Health Secretary described this winter as the "worst ever" for the NHS, saying the flu outbreak had been "very, very tough" on frontline services, and adding: "In terms of pressures on the system, I think it probably is the worst ever because we've got very high levels of demand".

In an interview with ITV News, he refused to apologise to under pressure NHS staff, but did say sorry to patients who have been affected.

"I completely recognise the pressures that they have been going through and when they signed up to go into medicine they knew there was going to be pressurised moments", he added.

Justin Madders MP, Labour's shadow health minister, said Mr Hunt's comments were "startling" and show "how entirely out of touch with the reality of the NHS winter crisis Jeremy Hunt is".

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"Almost eight years of sustained underfunding of our health and care services have resulted in the worst winter crisis on record, with nearly 140,000 patients stuck in the back of ambulances for over 30 minutes".

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust rated the lowest with only 66% of patients seen within four hours, and the highest number of patients to have to wait over twelve hours to be seen were 272 at the University Hospitals Of North Midlands NHS Trust. "Over a thousand of those had to wait a shocking 12 hours or more".

Figures showing January was the second-worst month on record for A&E waiting times in England is "hard evidence on just how bad a winter the NHS is having", a leading expert has said. PHE said flu levels remain high but are continuing to stabilise across the UK.

He said: "The last six weeks has seen the acute services of the NHS under a sustained period of stress due to normal winter pressures along with a surge in influenza".

"The appalling human stories arising from the worst winter crisis on record have shocked the nation".

Finally, the data from NHS England show that more than two million patients came to A&E during the month, a rise of more than 5% on last years figures.

'It was better than both the month before, and was better too than the same time last winter.

Steve McManus, chief executive of Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, which sees about 350 patients a day in A&E, told Sky News it had managed to treat 86% of people within four hours in January.