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NHS winter crisis: what is happening at your hospital?

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Sturgeon urged to 'stop cutting hospital beds' at First Minister's Questions

And patients in ambulances also faced long waits, with one in eight left outside for half an hour or longer.

The consultants spell out a series of problems which are now impacting the NHS, including: thousands of patients waiting in ambulances for hours; more than 120 patients a day managed in corridors, with some dying prematurely; an average wait of 10 to 12 hours for a bed; and more than 50 patients at a time waiting for beds in emergency departments.

The letter was in fact leaked to the Health Service Journal.

Around 5,600 patients waited beyond the targeted four-hour period to be admitted, transferred or discharged after reporting to the hospitals between Christmas Day and Hogmanay.

She said: "People are waiting too long in A&E departments because there are no beds for them on wards, and because many of those hospital beds are taken up by patients who are waiting for their social care arrangements".

NHS Scotland figures and the health secretary, Shona Robison, pointed to an increase in flu as part of the reason for the poor results.

This includes the additional "escalation beds" which are used when the hospital is struggling to cope with demand.

Speaking during first minister's questions at Holyrood, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called on Ms Sturgeon to stop cutting hospital beds while Scotland is in the midst of a "flu crisis".

'We are writing to you now as we believe the current winter pressures facing the NHS have brought us to a watershed moment, ' said Mr Hopson.

Sturgeon urged to 'stop cutting hospital beds' at First Minister's Questions

The First Minister said: "N evertheless, Scotland's NHS remains the best-performing NHS anywhere in the United Kingdom".

"But this SNP government has cut both hospital beds and elderly social care places, so when something like a flu crisis hits, the system breaks down".

A spokesperson said: "There has been a 68.7% increase in the number of A&E consultants since 2010, and the NHS was given top priority in the recent Budget with an extra £2.8bn allocated over the next two years".

They describe the compromise of safety at hospitals as "intolerable" and the NHS as "severely and chronically underfunding", while also publicly apologising to patients for failing to "fulfil our pledge for a safe efficient service".

"His son called 999 seven times - only to be told that an ambulance was coming, not from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary which was just 14 minutes away, but from Kelso".

"That is down partly to policy, but it is down principally to the hard work of staff right across our health service".

Mr Leonard said: "That is an 80 year old man with underlying health conditions waiting more than 16 hours for treatment".

It comes as new figures revealed the number of flu cases in Scotland had more than doubled over the past week, leaving them four times higher than the same time a year ago.

The Nat leader made a grovelling apology as Mr Wilson's ordeal was revealed in Holyrood by Labour chief Richard Leonard.

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