NHS England
New figures reveal crisis in A&E departments of England hospitalsReuters

According to new statistics, only four hospitals in England have hit the Government A&E targets in the first three months of 2016. Frontline NHS staff say growing pressures on hospitals in England is pushing them towards "crisis".

A&E target was introduced by the Department of Health for NHS acute hospitals in England. It says 95% of patients attending an A&E department must be seen, treated, admitted or discharged in under four hours.

The official figures showing NHS performance showed only 92% of patients were dealt with in less than four hours, the poorest performance since 2003-04.

"A&E departments are facing huge challenges in caring for so many patients, to the point that what used to be exceptional pressure is now becoming the norm," Anna Crossley, the RCN's emergency care specialist told the Independent, adding: "If the exceptional is now the new norm, we have to be concerned about any additional pressures which could cause the system to be completely overwhelmed."

Labour's shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander called the report, which came out on Thursday (12 May), as "Black Thursday for the NHS" and blamed the decreasing number of social care services center for it.

"Hundreds of thousands of older people without the support they need to live at home independently," Alexander said, adding: "This is leaving many people with no choice but to go to A&E. Ministers can't sit back and allow this crisis to go on any longer."

The Department of Health is trying to help staff and believes hospitals are coping well with increased demand. "We are committed to delivering a safer seven day NHS which is why we have invested £10bn to fund the NHS's own plan to transform services in the future," a Department of Health spokesperson said.