Despite the best efforts of staff, the performance of A&Es is now as bad as it ever has been.
And a report by the Care Quality Commission confirms that overcrowding is leaving patient safety compromised.
Reporter Fiona Foster interviews Dr Taj Hassan the President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine who tells the programme:
Our recent statistics show that anywhere from five hundred to a thousand patients per year are dying because unfortunately our departments are ever more crowded.“
Chris Hopson of NHS Providers runs the body that represents most of the hospital and ambulance chiefs around the country. He says:
We are running our hospitals at ninety five, ninety eighty, ninety nine percent capacity. So when you get a surge in demand that overloads the system. You have to be careful about saying that the NHS is suddenly going to fall off the edge of a cliff because it never does. What I think we tend to see is a long slow deterioration.”
The NHS is short of 2,000 emergency doctors, according to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.
And experts estimate that up to a third of A&E patients could be better treated elsewhere.
We meet an A&E patient, Jake, who explains that he rang half a dozen dentists about his toothache before arriving in casualty.
It is very frustrating because this is accident and emergency. The clue is in the word that we are here to treat emergency patients. For minor ailments, minor illnesses, they should be able to access their local GP surgery, their local walk in centres, even the pharmacists can help.”