The Royal College of Nursing says its members say conditions in the NHS are the worst they have experienced. Janet Davies, chief executive at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), told bbc.co.uk that she had heard from frontline nurses who wanted to give the best care they could to their patients but were told to discharge them before they were fit just to free up beds.
One sister in charge of a major treatment centre in accident and emergency, told the RCN: "At one point our treatment area, meant for 20 patients, had 56 patients crowded in corridors and around the nursing station.
"Our resuscitation room built for six regularly had seven."
The college said nurses from Scotland to London had reported serious concerns about the quality of care they were able to provide.
Meanwhile a letter from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), called for urgent investment to help "over-full hospitals with too few qualified staff". In the letter, 50 leading doctors warned the prime minster Theresa May that lives are being put at risk due to mounting pressures on the NHS. The hospital doctors – drawn across a range of specialisms - say that the NHS “will fail” this winter and patient care will suffer unless she provides an emergency cash injection.
This follows a series of recent reports of patients waiting in hospital trolleys for hours, A&E departments being closed, women being turned away from maternity units as well as the ambulance service being seriously overstretched (not helped by the computerised call system breaking down on New Year’s Eve, leading to delays on the busiest night of the year).
Last month [December 2016] hospitals were ordered by NHS England to divert thousands of patients from Accident & Emergency units in an unprecedented step to help stave off a winter crisis. They were also asked to stop carrying out the majority of operations for at least a month, in a bid to reduce dangerously high levels of bed occupancy.
Earlier this week Tuesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt fled reporters who asked him about the “watering down” of a four hour target for A&E patients. He also got defensive when called to account by Piers Morgan. Reports are circulating of a rift between NHS chief Simon Stevens and the Government, although officials were keen to downplay this.
A Commons debate will commence this afternoon and we will bring you news as it develops. You can also follow news on the crisis via Twitter@ #NHScrisis