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'Unprecedented' pressure on NHS hits A&E waiting times

"Unprecedented" pressure on the health services has led to an increase in waiting times at accident and emergency departments across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, NHS chiefs have said.

Hospitals are supposed to see 95 per cent of patients within four hours, but the latest figures show in December Northern Ireland hospitals were well below that - with just 76 percent being seen on time.

And departments in England are also falling short at less than 90 per cent, according to the weekly figures - despite some improvement from the previous week.

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports:

NHS urges caution in cold snap to ease pressure on A&E

Health chiefs have urged people to take care in the impending cold snap as the NHS struggles to cope with "unprecented" pressure on services.

It comes as the latest figures for accident and emergency departments in England show a slight improvement in the number of patients seen within four hours - 89.8 per cent compared to 86.7 per cent the previous week - though still falling short of the 95 per cent target.

The NHS is experiencing Credit: PA

Dame Barbara Hakin, a director at NHS England, urged people to try their pharmacist or GP for minor ailments rather than heading to A&E.

Although we have seen a slight easing in the number of attendances and emergency admissions to A&E, the NHS continues to face unprecedented pressures on its frontline services - particularly A&E, NHS111 and ambulance services.

In light of the latest weather warnings across the country, we would urge people - particularly the elderly - to stay in the warm, ensure they have proper medication, get their flu jab if they have not yet done so, and seek advice from their pharmacist or their GPs for colds, coughs and minor ailments.

– Dame Barbara Hakin, NHS England
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