Major accident and emergency departments have failed to meet waiting-time targets for two weeks running, the latest figures suggest.
All hospitals in England are expected to admit or discharge 95 per cent of patients within four hours of them attending A&E. But in the week ending 28 July, only 94.3 per cent of patients attending major A&E departments across England were attended to within that time.
Meanwhile public confidence in the troubled NHS 111 helpline may have dipped between May and June, when the number of calls to the line fell by almost 30,000.
In April, 566,532 people called the new line for urgent but non-emergency care. This increased to 580,937 in May but fell 4.8 per cent to 552,717 in June, NHS England figures show.
The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, said: “These figures show a worrying deterioration in A&E across England and leave David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt in danger of presiding over something unprecedented in recent NHS history – a summer A&E crisis.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said that when taking into account all types of emergency departments – including major A&Es, minor injuries units and specialist A&Es – the service as a whole met the 95 per cent target.