The pressures on A&E departments are "growing" leaving the service "closer to the cliff edge", the NHS Confederation chief executive has warned.
Mike Farrar said: "Like many hard-working frontline staff in the NHS, we have been ringing the alarm bells about urgent care services struggling to meet the demands of patients.
"The recent headlines do not lie – the pressures are growing and we are getting closer and closer to the cliff edge.
"In the last ten years, emergency admissions through A&E have increased by 51 per cent; that's an extra 1.25 million more patients going in to hospital on an unplanned basis.
"If we continue with this trend, we will see another extra half a million patients cramming into our A&E department in the next three years. This will be simply impossible for our hospital services to cope with, despite the heroic efforts of staff to date."