LEVELS of bed occupancy and ambulance delays hit "dangerous" levels at Southend Hospital, recent figures revealed.

Ashley Dalton, Rochford and Southend East Labour parliamentary candidate

brought NHS figures to light, which found the hospital exceeded its safe bed occupancy targets on 26 out of 28 days from December 3 to December 30.

Hospitals are expected to ensure that no more than 85 percent of beds are occupied on any given day, but across December, more than 93 per cent of Southend Hospital’s beds were occupied.

Ashley Dalton said: “The people of Rochford and Southend deserve so much better than this.

"Each winter our hospitals face rising demand as illnesses strike our elderly and vulnerable - each winter, this Tory government fails to properly fund them.

“Thank goodness for all the staff at Southend Hospital who work so hard for patients despite NHS cuts.

“The Tories have no plan to tackle the financial crisis facing our hospitals – their plans have put units across the country at risk, while beds are cut, staff numbers reduced and treatments rationed.”

Further statistics showed that 295 of the 2,561 patients arriving at Southend Hospital by ambulance during December, faced delays of at least 30 minutes on arrival.

Most of them waited in the back of an ambulance for between 30 minutes and an hour, while 67 of them were forced to wait more than an hour to be transferred from paramedics to A&E staff.

Across England, there was a 23 percent increase in patients stuck in the back of ambulances for over an hour between December 17 and 30.

Ashley Dalton added: “Pressure for hospital beds, caused by Tory cuts, has led to a situation where patients must queue in ambulances, sometimes for over an hour, to receive emergency care.

"This would be unacceptable at any time, let alone during the coldest months of the year.

“Labour has committed to a sustainable NHS funding plan, which would give Southend Hospital the money it needs to respond to rising demand.”

Yvonne Blücher, Managing Director at Southend Hospital, said: "Like other hospitals across Essex and the country, we’ve experienced higher than normal numbers of acutely ill patients coming through our doors which has contributed to a higher than recommended occupancy rate during December 2018.

"NHS England recommends that bed occupancy should not exceed 85 per cent over the winter period to ensure that trusts can manage increased demand.

"While we have exceeded 85 per cent occupancy during December, all patients requiring admission during this period were admitted to hospital and our patients cared for safely.

"We continue to work closely with our partners at the councils, at neighbouring trusts and across our local CCGs to support patients to stay well at home and ensure patients who leave hospital do so as soon as they are medically fit with the right care packages in place if required."