Waiting times at major A&E departments at worst ever level

Service staff member Wendy Read from Locks Heath is deaf and has praised her colleagues for learning sign language

Mr Hunt added that "significantly more" money would need to be spent on the NHS to ensure services could cope with demand.

Jeremy Hunt has refused to apologise to NHS staff for record pressures this winter, saying in an interview that they knew what to expect when they "signed up".

He said: "When they signed up to go into medicine they knew there would be pressurised moments".

"I take responsibility for everything that happens in the NHS", Hunt said.

"Our focus is always on trying to achieve those headline national targets because we see those as a measure of quality and experience for patients, and a measure of staff and the way they are caring for patients", he said.

Figures showing January was the second-worst month on record for A&E waiting times in England is "hard evidence on just how bad a winter the NHS is having", a leading expert has said.

Appleby continued: "A year ago we warned that corridors had become the new emergency wards".

"It follows the Prime Minister's freaky comment last month that cancelled operations were "part of the plan" for the NHS and that "nothing is perfect".

The figures reveal just how far away the NHS is from meeting the requirement for hospital A&Es, walk-in centres and urgent care centres to deal with 95% of patients within four hours.

While there was a slight improvement across all emergency departments, performance at Type 1 A&Es, defined as consultant-led 24 hours facilities, was the worst-ever at 77.1%.

Monthly performance figures for January will reveal how far behind the target of seeing, treating or discharging 95% of patients within four hours the NHS has fallen. January's figure was even worse than December's - which broke records.

This is from figures on NHS A&E waiting times, for January 2018, which were published on the NHS website today.

Only the services in the North East and West Midlands were averaging responding to these calls below seven minutes - the set limit.

'All parts of the system need investment in order to maintain and improve the quality of care that patients need and deserve'. In 92.6% of cases where patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours or less.

"The truth is that our hardworking NHS staff provide the best possible care in the face of unprecedented pressures and are all that stand between the current crisis and total collapse".

"We now do not have adequate funding or capacity in our health and social care services and we need to urgently find a long-term solution".

Richard Murray, director of policy for The King's Fund, said: 'Today's data show the NHS is still under significant pressure.

Nick Scriven, President of the Society of Acute Medicine, said: "The last six weeks has seen the acute services of the NHS under a sustained period of stress due to "normal" winter pressures along with a surge in influenza".

'Neither of these were unpredictable but both have combined to cause the issues that have been widely reported across the country.