48 people have been killed by flu this winter in the UK

Patients are dying in hospital corridors as safety is compromised by

Ms Sturgeon said levels of winter flu were now four times the level recorded in the same week of past year. The staff is putting in their best efforts say the doctors and so are the trusts and clinical commissioning groups.

"The fact remains however that the NHS is severely and chronically underfunded".

However analysis by the BBC showed that A&E waiting time performance in December continued to be better in Scotland than in England, where senior doctors have warned that patients are "dying in hospital corridors".

"Despite these challenges, over 82 per cent of patients were still seen within the four-hour target in Scotland's core A&Es throughout December, compared to 77.3 per cent in England".

Responding to the claims during First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon said the "health service budget has gone up to record levels, the number of people who work in our health service has gone up to record levels and the number of delayed discharges has gone down over the past year".

So as a matter of urgency we ask that you consider supporting strategies that will reduce crowding in our Emergency Departments.

A hospital spokesman said: "We would like to extend our honest apologies to Esme Thomas and her family, and to all our patients who have had to spend much longer in A&E than normal waiting for a hospital bed".

Jim Crombie, deputy chief executive of NHS Lothian, said: "I would like to apologise to Mr Wilson and his family for any delays they encountered in the emergency department at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh".

Chris Hopson of NHS Providers had told media: "Too often, in too many places, standards of care are compromised and patients' safety put at risk".

The consultants spell out a series of problems which are now impacting the NHS, including: thousands of patients waiting in ambulances for hours; more than 120 patients a day managed in corridors, with some dying prematurely; an average wait of 10 to 12 hours for a bed; and more than 50 patients at a time waiting for beds in emergency departments. These patients are sometimes forced to sleep in clinics and wards that are prepared hurriedly to accommodate the rush. They add that this is not a report from "outliers" but most of the hospitals and trusts are facing the same problem.

The figures also showed that a further 30 patients needed intensive care. They ended the letter signing on behalf of themselves and their departmental staff.

Mrs May said that the cancellation of 55,000 appointments last week was "part of the plan" for the NHS this winter, but said of her Government's response so far "nothing is perfect".

"But we know there is a great deal of pressure in A&E departments, and we are grateful to all NHS staff for their incredible work in challenging circumstances".

The Scottish Ambulance Service reported an nearly 40 per cent increase in the number of calls on Hogmanay alone while NHS 24 received more than 45,000 calls in the four days over Christmas.

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