This winter crisis is worse

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The higher flu rate in Scotland means the health service here is under greater pressure than the rest of the United Kingdom, she added.

In addition, nearly half a million patients called the NHS 111 helpline last week, the highest number ever.

The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 57.6%.

The situation threatens a repeat of last winter, when some hospitals had to turn gyms and storage areas into temporary wards as increasing numbers of patients had to wait hours on trolleys in corridors or in ambulances before being given a bed.

Meanwhile trusts up and down the country are seeing no let up in pressure in the new year, with some fearing the worst is yet to come.

A spokesman for The Save Weston A&E Campaign, which has been pushing for A&E to reopen overnight, said: "We feel deeply sorry for Mrs Thomas and her family and wish her a quick and full recovery, but we are also well aware of the very hard conditions under which dedicated NHS staff at Weston General are having to work".

The Gazette also reported yesterday how so-called bed-blocking - when patients are well enough to leave and want to do so but can not due to a lack of social care provision - is adding to the strain on hospital wards.

"During this time pressures on our services led to an unusually large number of A and E breaches".

What have been your experiences this winter?

Sturgeon urged to 'stop cutting hospital beds' at First Minister's Questions
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Today's stats also reveal that cancer care targets have taken a hit - just 82.5% of patients received their first treatment within 62 days of referral.

The signatories are from hospitals including major London teaching hospitals such as the Royal Free, King's College and Guy's and St Thomas's, as well as regional trauma centres such as the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS trust, which runs the Royal Stoke hospital, as well as several of the seven health boards in Wales.

Nearly 15% of England's A&E patients waited more than four hours to be seen last month - the joint-worst figure on record - as senior doctors warn of patients dying in corridors.

The consultants spell out a series of problems which are now impacting the NHS, including: thousands of patients waiting in ambulances for hours; more than 120 patients a day managed in corridors, with some dying prematurely; an average wait of 10 to 12 hours for a bed; and more than 50 patients at a time waiting for beds in emergency departments.

"However, this winter has seen an increasing amount of severely ill patients that require admission to hospital, and despite the plans put in place our bed occupancy levels reached 100 per cent on two occasions".

Thousands of patients are waiting in ambulances for hours as the hospitals lack adequate space.

The only exceptions to this are cancer operations and what the NHS called "time-critical procedures" where the surgery has to go ahead to avoid the patient's condition deteriorating further.

It concludes: "We would like to apologise to our patients for being unable to fulfil our pledge for a safe efficient service and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of staff".

It comes as new figures revealed the number of flu cases in Scotland had more than doubled over the past week, leaving them four times higher than the same time previous year.

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