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The number of people forced to wait long periods in ambulances rose dramatically during the Christmas period, whilst Britain’s hospitals were dangerously full.

National Health Service (NHS) figures show 16,893 patients waited more than 30 minutes in ambulances at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in the week before New Year’s Eve.

This represents a 42 per cent rise on the 11,900 which endured half hour handover waits the week previously. Those stuck for more than an hour almost doubled, shooting up by 95 per cent to 4,700 compared to 2,400 the week before.

In the same week before the year’s end, bed occupancy was at 91.7 per cent, the same figures also reveal, well over the 85 per cent level considered safe.

Twenty-two NHS trusts hit bed occupancy of 100 per cent during the final week of December for periods of up to five days.

Winter Daily Situation Report data for week ending 31-12-2017 is published today. https://t.co/BguZ84SCSS#NHS#Winter

— NHS England Stats (@NHSEnglandStats) January 4, 2018

The revelations come the day after it emerged that all non-emergency operations will be cancelled until at least February, as the worst NHS winter crisis in 30 years hits.

Around 55,000 planned procedures will be axed in an attempt to free up beds and a senior doctor claimed that patients are being treated in “third world” conditions in some hospitals.

A spokesman for NHS England told The Telegraph: “Hospitals, GPs, ambulances, and other frontline NHS services have been extremely busy between Christmas and New Year, reporting higher levels of respiratory illness and some indications of increasing patient illness severity and flu.

“These increased pressures were mirrored in the NHS 111 service.”

Theresa May has apologised for NHS delays but insisted the health service has been better prepared for the Winter period than ever before pic.twitter.com/oa4Oib3THv

— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 4, 2018

Follow the two days of damning media reports, Prime Minister Theresa May issued an apology to patients, whilst claiming the NHS was more ready than ever for the winter and thanking the staff.

She told Sky News: “I recognise that it is difficult for people who are facing delays. I recognise that it is difficult if someone is delayed on their admission to hospital, or if somebody has an operation postponed.

“And we will hope to ensure that those operations can be reinstated as soon as possible.”

Former British Prime Minister and Iraq War architect Tony Blair attempted to blame Brexit for the NHS crisis, claiming the vote has driven European Union citizens away from working for the service. After making the claims Thursday morning his points were quickly refuted, however, as observers noted the number of EU citizens working in the NHS had actually risen since the vote.

Original Article

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