Theresa May has finally apologised for delays to thousands of NHS operations as a result of winter pressures.
The prime minister said on Thursday that while this winter had been “better planned” for than previous years, the delays were “disappointing” and “frustrating”.
Jeremy Hunt yesterday acknowledged the health service needed “substantially more resources” in the future.
The health secretary has also been blasted by doctors after he inadvertently admitted this morning that there was a “winter crisis” in the NHS - something he previously had refused to admit was happening.
Hospitals in England have been told to delay pre-planned operations and routine outpatient appointments until the end of the month due to severe winter pressures.
Officials have estimated that this could lead to up to 55,000 deferred operations.
A number of ambulance services are also under severe pressure, with two even resorting to taxis to ferry patients to hospital.
The NHS also announced that sanctions for mixed sex accommodation breaches should be temporarily lifted to deal with overcrowding.
Speaking at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, May praised NHS staff for doing a “fantastic job” in coping over the winter.
“Pressures do come every winter particularly at the Christmas and New Year period and we’ve seen that. Measures have been taken and put in place to ensure that those most urgently in need of care are being treated, those measures were planned for,” she said.
“This winter has been better planned for than any previous winter but I recognise there will be those who have been delayed on admission to hospital, or who’ve had their operations postponed, we will want to ensure that those operations can be reinstated as soon as possible.
May added: “It’s difficult for people, I know it’s disappointing, it’s frustrating for them and I apologise.”