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Three London hospital trusts were named today as among the worst 10 in the country for A&E delays as figures showed the NHS was under the heaviest winter pressure for a decade.

A total of 436,229 people sought emergency help across the country in the week ending on Sunday [December 7] – almost 30,000 more than the average for the same period last year.

In London, the trusts that run Northwick Park, Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals again fell far short of Government targets to see patients within four hours – adding further controversy to the decision to close two neighbouring casualty units in September.

Severe delays were also reported at the east London trust that runs Queen’s hospital in Romford and King George in Ilford, where only 76 per cent of patients attending the main A&E units were seen in time. The national target is 95 per cent.

NHS England’s first “winter health check” of the 2014/15 winter said more than 110,000 patients attending A&E were so ill that they had to be admitted to hospital – about 5,000 more than a year ago.

Nationally, 91.8 per cent of patients were seen in four hours – down three points on last year. Pressures were intensified because almost 1,300 beds a day could not be used due to the vomiting bug norovirus and diarrhoea, on top of 751 a day where “bed blocking” resulted from medically-fit patients being unable to be returned to community care.

Dame Barbara Hakin, National Director of Commissioning Operations for NHS England said: “This week saw over 110,100 emergency admissions to hospital and 436,229 attendances – up nearly 30,000 on the average for the same week over the past years. Unsurprisingly, this level of demand continues to put extra pressure on our hospitals but the NHS remains resilient and is pulling out all the stops, with local hospitals, ambulances, GPs, home health services and local councils all working hard to open extra beds and seven day services using the extra winter funding that has been made available.”

London North West Healthcare, which runs Northwick Park and Ealing, was the second worst in the country for main A&E performance, with 67.3 per cent of patients seen in four hours. Imperial, which runs Charing Cross and St Mary’s, was eighth worst at 75.7 per cent.

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