The pressures on hospital A&E units continue to rise. Latest weekly figures show 45,000 patients had to wait more than four hours to be treated – the highest percentage since monitoring began, reports Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Ipswich, David Ellesmere.
More than 10,000 people were left on trolleys waiting for a hospital bed to become available, again the highest ever figure.
And this is before cold weather really sets it. It’s no wonder that the NHS’s medical director has admitted that the A&E system is “creaking”.
The pressures are coming from two main directions. Lack of GPs means people are having to wait longer for appointments and are just going to A&E instead. And cuts to council social care budgets mean that people have to stay longer in hospital than necessary because they can’t be looked after in their own home.
The problems are likely to get worse over the busy Christmas period but the Government is imposing a “news blackout” on A&E waiting times. Publication of weekly figures has now been suspended until 9th January so we won’t know just how bad things are.