NHS England has published November performance statistics for the NHS, showing that the service failed to hit every major performance target.

The data come as no surprise, however, following a trend of greater demand for both elective and emergency services, and a sharp increase in delayed discharges, bottle-necking the flow of patients.

A&E attendances jumped 4.5 percent from the previous year with emergency admissions also rising by 3.5 percent, and there were 1,906,784 attendances at A&E, making a rise of 1.7 percent on November 2015.

A&E waiting time standards were not met, with just 88.4 percent of patients admitted, transferred or discharged from A&E within four hours of arrival, falling well below the 95 percent standard which has not been met since July 2015.

Seven of the eight cancer standards were met, but the 85 percent target for 62 day cancer waiting times was missed, with 82.3 percent of patients beginning a first definitive treatment within this timeframe following an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer.

November also saw a huge leap in delayed patient transfers, with 193,680 delayed days in the month, marking a rise of 40,525 from the year ago period.

"These figures pre-date the extraordinary pressures we've seen since the run-up to Christmas. But they show as we headed into winter, the NHS was already working flat out to deal with a relentless rise in demand," said director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery.

The results come alongside media reports that almost half of hospitals in England declared a major alert in the first week of 2017 with services near collapse from unprecedented demand.

According to BBC News, 66 out of 152 trusts sounded alarm bells as historically high levels of bed blocking caused huge delays to care.

Earlier this week, the British Red Cross said it has been called in to help deal with a "humanitarian crisis in the NHS", driven by inadequate funding for social care and a "plethora" of other failures across the system.

"Even in the autumn it was clear the pressure was unsustainable. There is a fundamental gap between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and its funding levels. We need to acknowledge this and debate what to do about it," stressed Cordery.