Hospital A&E performance sank to a fresh low over the new year, with NHS England statistics showing that emergency departments across England managed to treat just 79.8% of patients within the four-hour target.
The performance during the seven days to last Sunday was officially the worst ever. The figures, released three days after the publication of data showing that A&E waiting time performance had slumped just before Christmas, put the coalition under renewed pressure over the NHS.
Other figures from NHS England, which reveal a sharp escalation in other problems over the festive period, especially in the week including and just after the new year, indicate the service was on the brink of a winter crisis.
Ambulances had to queue for at least 30 minutes outside an A&E unit in England on 29,388 occasions in the three weeks between 15 December and 4 January, unable to hand over their patients to A&E staff because the emergency department was too busy.
That was more than double the 12,615 such incidents in the comparable three weeks in the winter of 2013-14.
Full story in The Guardian 9 January 2015