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Dr Stuart Findlay, co-chairman of the North East and Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network - which represents all NHS organisations - said: "Each hospital is different so they can choose how they do this and our region's hospital trusts will try to minimise disruption to those patients with non urgent planned operations when making their decisions".

What is happening at the moment in accident and emergency departments is symptomatic of pressures across the entire system.

She said: "We planned for these winter pressures by creating extra capacity - such as extra inpatient beds at Gartnavel Hospital and restricting staff holidays".

NHS England's weekly operational update shows the true extent of the winter crisis that has hit the NHS, with ambulance delays reaching their highest levels of the year.

The safe limit set by the NHS is under that, but many departments across the United Kingdom were feeling that much pressure.

British Prime Minister Theresa May apologized on Thursday to the patients whose operations were canceled, calling the situation "frustrating".

Karen Partington, chairman of the central Lancashire A&E Delivery Board and Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Like other NHS organisations across the country, we have seen an increase in respiratory conditions, more severe illness, and an increase in flu which means our hospitals are very busy".

An emergency medicine consultant at a Midlands hospital, who wished to remain anonymous out of concern for his colleagues, told the BMA consultants from across his trust had offered to help but had been unable, with the entire emergency department full and no room in which to operate.

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Instead, Butler-Smith told BuzzFeed News she waited in the ambulance with her mother and sisters for approximately four hours before a specialist nurse came out and urgently admitted the elderly woman for a brain scan to assess the severity of her stroke.

When they arrived, however, the hospital's A&E department was so overwhelmed that staff were unable to admit her. On Twitter, Fawcett apologized for the "third-world conditions" patients had to endure. We are fighting to safely treat an increasing number of acutely unwell patients, we are fighting to find enough staff to cover shifts 24/7 and we are fighting to find an available hospital bed for sick patients when there simply aren't enough.

The East of England Ambulance Service is also using private ambulance services to help increase their cover.

The cost to the NHS of just answering a 999 call is £8, to dispatch an ambulance it's £155 and to take a patient to hospital the price tag is more than £250.

Secondly, NHS funding is no longer keeping pace with the rising demand.

"We must, at all cost, make sure A&E is reserved for those who are seriously ill and in need of that care". The supply, however, is always limited, and so shortages result, with rationing of care the inevitable denouement.

A spokesperson for the Countess of Chester Hospital said 'If you have an appointment or operation scheduled at the Countess attend as normal unless you have been contacted saying otherwise'.

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