The NHS in England has missed its four-hour A&E waiting time target with performance dropping to its lowest level for a decade, figures show.
From October to December 92.6% of patients were seen in four hours - below the 95% target. The performance is the worst quarterly result since the target was introduced at the end of 2004. The rest of the UK is also missing the target and a number of hospitals have declared "major incidents" recently.
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age said: "These new A&E figures demonstrate deepening problems in our whole health and social care system, not just accident and emergency departments. Cuts to social care, which is funded not by the NHS but by councils, mean fewer frail elderly patients receive the support they need to stay out of hospital. And once in hospital, there are too few support services available for them to be quickly and safely discharged. As a result the entire system is in danger of becoming blocked at times of increase demand, such as we are seeing now."
In the two weeks over Christmas, 20,962 A&E patients waited up to 12 hours on trolleys – almost four times as many as the 5,573 over the same period last year. The official statistics show that in the last three months, more than 90,000 A&E patients waited up to 12 hours on trolleys.
The figure is the highest in a decade – and more than 40% higher than the last recorded high, in spring 2013. The figures for the last three months show 174 patients waited more than 12 hours in A&E - another record high.