WAITS at A&E departments have hit their worst levels since records began and that decline means at least 330,000 people waited longer than they should as hospitals faced huge pressure to find beds.

This is a sad indictment of the state that our health service has been allowed to fall into that thousands of people needing medical help face the prospect of being left stranded in hospital corridors or on trollies.

The figures make clear the true scale of the crisis facing our health care systems – they are a wake-up call and show that patients could face serious consequences as a result of this decline in performance.

Today’s figures also remind us that the NHS is fighting a challenging battle in trying to meet its commitments to provide timely health care in the face of the pressure it is under and we must not lose sight of these problems as other matters, Brexit mainly, distract us.

The challenges of increased attendances at emergency departments not only has a serious impact on hundreds of thousands of patients, it will no doubt be hugely demoralising for many staff and, unfortunately, the recently published NHS ten-year plan setting out how new funding will be used to improve services doesn’t address the future of NHS waiting times.

It is clear that the skills and commitment shown by frontline NHS staff in providing urgent and emergency services, often in extremely difficult circumstances, is what keeps the heart of the service beating.