“We have turned the clock back to the bad old days with more than 1,000 patients waiting more than 12 hours for treatment in A and E departments. This is simply not acceptable and it is only the most stark signal of a whole system under incredible strain.
“The impact of this winter and the financial crisis gripping the health and care services throughout England is now clear and it is time to focus on the solutions – we need long-term funding commitments, we need a reformed system that joins up different parts of a fragmented system, and we need politicians to wake up to the reality of what is happening.
“The report’s findings were sadly inevitable. Staff in England are heroically trying to keep their heads above water but are clearly struggling to manage the number of patients coming through the door with the pitiful resources at their disposal.
“It’s imperative that NHS standards do not incentivise perverse behaviours which undermine the point of having standards in the first place.
“Yet this report suggests some standards expected of hospitals neither accurately reflect performance nor protect the sickest patients who are most likely to need a hospital bed. The four-hour target for A&E is highlighted as a good example of this.
“A recent poll of our members showed nearly two-thirds believe this to be the most difficult winter in their careers, and that’s despite extensive planning.”