Jeremy Hunt apologises to patients whose operations are cancelled

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The health secretary has apologised for non-urgent surgeries being postponed - saying it's "absolutely not what I want".

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

NHS England's acute care director said hospitals were being given the "time and space" to manage January pressures.

"Like many trusts we have seen a high number of very sick patients in our hospitals with complex health needs, which means despite our best efforts due to the demand we are not able to admit all patients for their routine operations as planned".

It comes as the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which runs hospitals in Wakefield and Dewsbury, continues to warn of "unprecedented" demand on its emergency departments.

"There are real pressures, no question about it", he said.

Ms May said the NHS was "better prepared for winter than ever". "After five years in the job, he should be taking responsibility, not fleeing the scene".

A number of planned operations and outpatient clinics at KGH have been cancelled today (Tuesday) as the hospital struggles to cope with emergency pressures.

Clinical commissioning groups have been told to suspend the sanctions normally imposed on hospitals for mixed accommodation in single gender wards.

There would also be more resources for ambulatory care and clinics as alternatives to hospital admissions, and a twice-daily review of all patients to facilitate discharge.

Theresa May said it was "disappointing" and "frustrating" for those affected but insisted the health service was coping. "There is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised".

"Thank you for helping us to prioritise the most seriously ill and injured patients this winter".

'Since the [Christmas] bank holiday things have escalated rapidly and we are on the cusp of a major issue at least as bad as a year ago'.

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".

Their warning coincides with a warning from NHS Providers, that represents 98% of hospital, mental health, community and ambulance service trusts in England, which says the health service can no longer deliver adequate care within current funding.

"I must stress, if you need urgent care, our highly skilled staff are here all day and all night, but there are other more appropriate alternatives, from NHS 111 to pharmacies, for common ailments and other illnesses".

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