Most major daily newspapers today are running headlines regarding Britain’s Accident and Emergency units going into meltdown yesterday as medics struggled to cope with a huge surge in patients.
Waiting times grew to 12 hours in A&E departments as politicians warned of a crisis.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted there was a “huge amount of pressure” on hospitals in England.
And he added: “We are running just to keep still.”
Mr Hunt spoke amid a huge surge in demand for A&E this winter, forcing nine hospitals to declare “major incidents” as they ran out of beds.
These normally only occur in cases such as a terror attack or a plane crash, and saw all but the most vital operations cancelled.
Croyden University Hospital, south London, yesterday became the latest to struggle after delays rocketed to half a day. It made a plea for resources as medics feared they would have to turn away more patients in urgent need.
Local Labour MP Steve Reed said: “A woman in her 80’s called my office to say she had waited 12 hours on a trolley bed in a corridor.
“The government has created an A&E crisis across Britain.”
Mr Reed spoke out as fellow Labour MPs said the NHS would not survive five years if the Tories win in the May General election.
Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Patients and hard-working staff are being let down by a system which is in crisis.”
Dr Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine said “all bets are off” about how the NHS would cope between January and March, the toughest time.
Hospitals were “full to bursting” and far too many patients who should have been discharged but could not because there would be no care for them in the community he added.
David Cameron accused unions of trying to “scaremonger” by claiming the NHS was “on the brink of disaster.”
He said: “I don’t think it’s remotely true or remotely responsible. The fact is the NHS is coping with a huge amount.”
The winter rush of patients using A&E instead of waiting days for a GP appointment has put the system under unbearable strain.