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Almost 1,000 people in A&E kept waiting more than 12 hours as 'trolley waits' hit record high

Almost 1,000 people waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to A&E departments across England in January - putting the number of so-called 'trolley waits' at a record high.

The number of 12-hour trolley waits has hit a record high Credit: PA

According to the latest figures from NHS England, a total of 988 people were kept waiting for an extended time - up from just 158 in January last year, as the scale of the pressure facing NHS hospitals was laid bare.

Meanwhile, 79,545 people had to wait more than the target four hours to be admitted - another record high.

The proportion of patients seen in that time frame was just 85.1 per cent - the lowest on record. The target is 95 per cent.

The number of people who had to wait more than two months to start cancer treatment after an urgent referral hit a new high of 2,437 - around one in five of patients seen by GPs.

The target for this type of referral is 85 per cent, but in January the level was just 79.7 per cent - a record low.

Experts have warned budget pressures in social care will not help matters Credit: PA

Nuffield Trust chief economist John Appleby said the figures made for "dismal reading" for both the NHS and patients - and warned that a funding gap in social care meant the situation wan unlikely to improve in the near future.

The numbers of patients stuck on a trolley waiting for a hospital bed have gone through the roof. These are vulnerable people with acute medical needs. Corridors, it seems, have become the new emergency wards.

The problems in social care are well known and cuts to services have been a big driver of these problems. That's why the extra money announced in yesterday's Budget is welcome.

But with the NHS experiencing its own pressures and the social care funding gap set to be at least £2 billion in the coming year alone, there are no guarantees that patients at A&E can expect let-up any time soon.

– John Appleby, Nuffield Trust