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I know it’s frustrating and I apologise, says May as struggling NHS cancels ops

The Prime Minister said she recognised it was “difficult” for somebody who has had their operation postponed.

Theresa May has apologised for delays to operations and hospital admissions as the NHS in England struggles to cope with mounting winter pressures.

The Prime Minister, on a visit to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, said she recognised it was “difficult” for somebody who has had their operation postponed and hoped procedures could be rescheduled “as soon as possible”.

Mrs May said: “I know it’s difficult, I know it’s frustrating, I know it’s disappointing for people, and I apologise.”

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Her visit comes after it emerged that tens of thousands of planned operations could be delayed for at least a month as the NHS deals with the most urgent cases.

It also followed new figures released on Thursday which revealed that delays in ambulances delivering patients to A&E departments in England had reached their highest level of the winter, as those waiting more than an hour nearly doubled in a week.

The NHS England statistics laid bare the pressures experienced by the health service between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, including unprecedented demand on its 111 hotline.

A weekly operational update showed that 4,734 emergency patients suffered long waits to be seen in A&E, soaring from 2,413 people in the week before.

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A total of 16,893 patients endured ambulance delays of more than 30 minutes over the Christmas stretch – up from 11,852 the previous week to a record high for this winter.

Non-emergency calls to the NHS hotline reached a record high in the week ending December 31, the latest data shows.

Calls to the 111 service shot up 21% on the previous week to 480,400 – the most received in a single week since it was created.

Bed occupancy rates climbed as high as 93.5% on New Year’s Eve, up from 86.7% on Christmas Day, according to the data, with an average of 91.7% across the week.

In the previous week hospitals had reported bed occupancy levels of 90.9% – above the recommended safe limit of 85%.

New Year’s Eve witnessed 12 hospital trusts reporting 100% bed occupancy, the biggest total for several weeks.

Tens of thousands of non-urgent operations and routine outpatient appointments have been shelved by NHS England to ease pressures on hospitals.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt apologised to patients in England on Wednesday for the wave of cancellations, saying it was “absolutely not what I want”.

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