Health secretary apologises as thousands of non-urgent operations postponed

Some 7.9 million appointments were missed in 2016-17 at an average cost of £120 each

NHS patients missed eight million hospital appointments in England alone a year ago, costing almost £1billion of taxpayers' cash.

NHS England is advising hospitals to defer non-urgent, elective operations and procedures until next month to help the health service deal with high pressures over the winter period.

"Clearly we would like to devote as much time as possible to caring for these patients so that they get well quickly and do not need to stay in hospital for extended periods of time".

It comes after warnings that every A&E in the country is struggling to meet demand.

The hospital said it was seeing a higher than normal number of patients, a greater number of patients whose transfer of care to another health organisation is delayed, and delays within the hospital itself due to staffing and service issues.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected claims that the NHS is in "crisis" saying the health service is better prepared "than ever before".

She also thanked local people for their messages of support and their own efforts to reduce pressure on the hospitals by only attending A&E when absolutely necessary and seeking non-emergency treatment from other NHS services such as pharmacies, GP surgeries and the NHS 111 telephone advice line.

It also announced that sanctions for mixed sex accommodation breaches should be temporarily lifted.

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NHS England's Prof Keith Willett admitted the pressures were severe - the worst he had seen since the 1990s - but said plans were in place.

"The NHS needs to take further action to increase capacity and minimise disruptive last-minute cancellations. That is why we are making these further recommendations".

A looming flu season is putting even more pressure on hospitals.

A year ago 101 health officials were paid more than Theresa May, who has a salary of just over £150,000.

Dr Richard Fawcett, who works at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, revealed that the department had run out of corridors to house patients.

Tracy Bullock, the chief executive of Mid Cheshire hospitals NHS foundation trust, tweeted that, in her 34 years working in the NHS, she had "never seen anything like this".

KGH's chief operating officer Rebecca Brown said: "We are under extreme pressure at the moment and are caring for a large number of older people who need urgent treatment".

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