Commenting on today’s data from NHS England, Ruth Thorlby, Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said: ‘These latest figures demonstrate how severe the pressures have been on the NHS over the holiday period.  

‘Over the Christmas week, bed occupancy was higher this year than last. This reflects the intense demand for hospital care, and may also suggest that hospitals struggled to get people home from hospital before Christmas. The rising pressures inside hospitals are also visible in the proportion of delays in ambulance handovers of over 30 minutes, which is rising week on week.

‘While winter pressures are broadly predictable, their severity is determined in part by a combination of the weather and highly contagious viruses. This winter, the NHS and social care system is already depleted by the impact of constrained budgets and rising demand.

‘More resources for all parts of the NHS and social care, coupled with better long-term planning, are the only route out of the annual cycle of the NHS "just about coping" every winter.'

Notes to editors

On Christmas Day, bed occupancy (at 86.7%) was 3.1% higher than last year, and then rose to 90% on Boxing Day, before ending the week at 93.5%.

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Liz Skinner

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