The latest NHS performance statistics have been released, showing that in December 2019 there were 2.18m A&E attendances; 6.5% more than in December the previous year.

The statistics also confirmed that more than one in five people spent more than four hours waiting to be seen and just 79.8% of all patients were cared for within the target time.

Once more, ambulances missed their target response time, both category one and two, with the number of incidents resolved by face-to-face response of over the phone coming in at 25,493 per day.

Responding to the worrying statistics, Dr Simon Walsh, spokesperson for the British Medical Association, asked: “How many wake-up calls does the Government need?

“These figures are truly alarming and serve as yet further evidence that our NHS simply doesn’t have the resources, staff, or capacity to cope with rocketing demand.”

He went on to say the situation is “totally unacceptable and demands urgent action.”

The monthly report also revealed that 201,395 people were seen following an urgent referral for suspected cancer in November 2019, with 91.3% of people in November having been seen by a specialist within two weeks of an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer.

This figure compares to 92.5% at the end of November 2018, but both still fall short of the operational standard which specifies that 93% of patients should be seen within this time.

Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS's medical director, also reminded that: “A&Es across the country are currently very busy - in 2019 we treated over a million more patients in our A&Es than the previous year.

“We have got more hospital beds open than last winter, but flu has come early and is around twice as high as this time last year.

He urged the public, “there is still time to get your flu jab, and remember to use the free NHS 111 phone and online service and your local pharmacist.”

The statistics are being described as the “worst on record”, with almost 100,000 patients waiting more than four hours for a bed in December and as many as 2,300 waiting more than 12 hours - another record high and a staggering 726.4% increase from the previous year.