Hospitals in England have “endured one of the worst winters on record” which is set to become an all-year-round norm, new figures suggest.
Waits in A&E, delayed transfer of care and bed occupancy levels were all found to be increasing, according to the latest British Medical Association (BMA) analysis of NHS figures.
Their analysis of data in England showed patients were waiting longer for ambulances, treatment and admission.
There was also a 6,831% rise in the number of patients waiting more than 12 hours on a trolley over the past seven years.
Over the past three months of 2017, bed occupancy levels on general and acute wards was 91.4% – the highest recorded, they said.
At the end of 2016, beds occupied by mental health patients were also said to be at an all-time high, with 89.7% of beds filled.
The BMA said between the start of December 2016 and the middle of March 2017, 94 of 152 trusts issued major alerts on at least one day to say they cannot cope.
Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chairman, said hospitals had “endured one of the worst winters on record”.
He said: “This new analysis is particularly stark because it wasn’t a bad winter in terms of external factors.
“The weather was mild and there were no widespread outbreaks of flu or norovirus.
“The pressure the NHS is under is purely down to bad political choices, with years of chronic under-funding and investment in services failing to keep up with patient demand.”
As the snap general election approaches, the BMA is calling for politicians “not to duck this crisis any longer” and agree on a long-term solution to protect the NHS.
As today’s public NHS England board meeting heard, March 2017 saw better A&E and ambulance performance than last year and waits for elective care got shorter, continuing the trend seen in the last few months and bringing the average wait down to only just over six weeks.
Occupancy rates also compare favourably thanks to more than 580 more beds being available than the same month last year.
– NHS England spokesman