England’s A&E departments have recorded their worst June performance since current records began, with just 86.4% of patients seen within four hours.
Performance was down 4.4% on the same month last year, when 90.8% of patients were seen within four hours, despite a negligible increase in attendances of just 0.7%.
In June, a total of 2,108,000 people attended an emergency department, up from 2,094,000 in June 2018.
The NHS England target of seeing 95% of patients within four hours has not been hit since July 2015.
A spokesperson for NHS England said staff shortages were a factor.
“Although long waits for planned care saw further improvements this month, hospitals are reporting continuing staffing and bed pressures.
“Local areas across the NHS are now reviewing the extra staffing and capital investment in facilities and diagnostics they will need for the next five years, ahead of national decisions on these later this year.”
The figures appear to bear out the view of a number of hospital chief executives who have told Sky News they have seen significant unexplained spikes in attendances.
NHS England said the number of attendances at major A&E departments was up more than 2%, and that emergency admissions to hospital rose by 3%.
Calls to NHS 111 were also up year on year.
Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said the NHS is in a “year-round crisis thanks to years of cutbacks and understaffing”.
He added: “Patients will find it staggering that this summer A&E performance so far has actually been worse than it was in the run up to Christmas and those stranded on trolleys in overcrowded hospitals is up 376% compared to last June.
“What’s more, the waiting list for treatment is at a record high with patients waiting longer in pain and distress for treatment.”