UK & World News
Hospital A&E Patient Numbers On The Rise
Hospital emergency departments saw 2,674 more admissions than they did in the same week last year.
The surge in admissions is thought to be one of the factors that has led to A&E departments nationwide missing their target for seeing patients within four hours.
In the last week, accident and emergency departments have seen 94.3% of patients within fours hours. The target is 95%.
Dame Barbara Hakin, chief operating officer of NHS England, said that although the weekly target had been missed, the quarterly target had been achieved.
She said: "The first few weeks of the calendar year are generally the toughest for the NHS, but this week's figures, the first week in quarter four, are over a percentage point better than the same week last year. This is hugely encouraging."
At Good Hope Hospital in the West Midlands, A&E staff have been dealing with a surge of patients since the New Year.
A new rapid assessment team of senior doctors and nurses checks fresh arrivals within 30 minutes of them coming in, redirecting those who could be seen by a GP or a minor injuries unit.
But a delay in discharging patients from the wards is causing a bottleneck.
By early afternoon, 13 patients are waiting in cubicles to be admitted. Until they are found a bed, patients are having to wait on trolleys for their A&E treatment to start.
A&E matron Anna Howell said the backlog adds to pressure on staff.
"It means we are doing two jobs rather than one," she said.
"There is the A&E workload and then there is the workload of patients who are stable and safe and need to be admitted for specialist treatment. They need different nursing."
Alice Mills, who turns 100 later this month, is one of those needing a bed.
She has breathing problems and doctors suspect she has an infection.
Her daughter Lesley Partridge said that although staff were busy, they were still caring.
"She was scared about coming into hospital," she said.
"But everybody has reassured her, joked with her and calmed her. It's exactly what she needed."
The problem with bed-blocking at Good Hope is common around the NHS.
Figures released earlier this week by NHS England showed that almost 2,700 beds are occupied by patients who are better. That is up on this time last year.
Abimbola Otesile, an A&E doctor at Good Hope, said the work rarely stops.
"As soon as you finish one patient you see the next one almost immediately, so you get very tired by the end of the day," he said.
Katherine Henderson, a lead A&E clinician at St Thomas's Hospital, London, said: "We have transformed our ability to get patients out of the EDU by early on flagging a patient's bed - we are going to need a bed on this unit.
"(We are) working very hard with the medical teams for patients coming into the hospital, but also working hard with the community teams, so we have a hospital-at-home system so we can actually got a rapid response community service to see any elderly patients who just needs a little bit more."
:: All this week Sky News has been providing live coverage examining the crisis in the NHS. Watch 'A Matter Of Life And Death' on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.