Prime Minister Theresa May says she does not accept that the National Health Service (NHS) is facing a "humanitarian crisis".
It follows a statement from the British Red Cross' chief executive Mike Adamson who raised concerns about the service after his charity's volunteers were called in to help frontline staff in 100 hospitals.
It also follows the deaths of two patients who died after long waits on trolleys, while a third was found hanged in a suspected suicide.
There was pressure on the PM to issue an emergency statement when Parliament reconvenes on Monday (9 January) after the Christmas break. However, May has said she would not be doing so as believed Adamson's warning was overstated.
Speaking on the Sky News political show Sophy Ridge on Sunday, she said: "I do not accept the description that the Red Cross has made of this.
"Yes there are huge pressures, but I think first of all we should thank all those dedicated professionals in the NHS who've been working so hard over what is always is a difficult period in terms of the number of people using the NHS.
"We had, I think, it was something like 150,000 medical professionals working in the NHS on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, and I want to say thank you to them for the work that they're doing.
"Yes, there are significant pressures, but we recognise those pressures. We asked the NHS a while back to set out what it needed over the next five years in terms of its plan for the future and the funding it would need. They did that, we gave them that funding and, in fact, we gave them more funding than they required.
"Funding is now at record levels for the NHS. More money has been going in."
However, the comments are likely to anger professionals and campaigners who have long warned about the deteriorating state of the health service.
According to deputy chair of the British Medical Association (BMA), Kailash Chand, last year was the worst on record for the NHS.
Writing in the Guardian on Wednesday (4 January), she said: "The last 12 months have been the worst in the history of the NHS.
"Our health system is under pressure like never before. The moment of crisis many warned of has arrived, and it is not clear that the NHS can be retrieved from this state of affairs."
She stated that ambulance response times have reached critically low levels, with the service being overburdened by "unnecessary admissions" due to £5bn in cuts to social care.
Charts circulated on social media show the drop in A&E performance since the Conservative government took power in 2010. The image below shows both overall performance, as well as type-one admissions, where the admissions are considered "major incidents".
Chand added NHS trusts recorded deficits of £2bn, while asked to make £22bn in "efficiencies" causing many facilities to scale back the number of beds they have available. As a result, 13,000 fewer beds were available in 2016, meaning the NHS treated five million fewer people a year.
As a result, Chand said fewer and fewer GPs were entering general practice, with many doctors opting for abroad instead.