Sharp rise in ambulance delays at A&E
There has been a large rise in the number of patients facing delays when they arrive at A&E in ambulances in England, figures show.
In the last week of 2017 there were 16,900 delays of 30 minutes – up by over 40% on the previous week.
Delays happen when A&E staff are not available for paramedics to hand over patients too.
The figures from NHS England once again illustrate the pressure the health service is under.
At least 20 hospital trusts have had to declare major incidents this week – about one in eight of the total.
The pressures prompted NHS England to order the cancellation of tens of thousands of non-urgent operations until the end of January in an attempt to ease the pressure on hospitals.
The move prompted Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to apologise to patients.
Non-urgent treatments had already been cancelled until mid-January, but NHS England said on Tuesday that would now be extended to the end of the month.
Hospitals have also been given the green light to put patients on mixed wards to help ease the pressure.
The data released by NHS England also showed that a record number of calls were made to NHS 111, the free helpline, which was set up in 2014.
There were 480,000 calls – a 21% rise on the previous week.
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