NHS crisis 'putting lives at risk', say top doctors

Royal College of Physicians warns hospitals are 'over-full' and have 'too few qualified staff'

Protesters march to voice their concerns over the state of the NHS 

Prime Minister Theresa May has come under fire from some of the UK's top medical professionals, who claim the NHS's deepening crisis is putting patients' lives at risk.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), which represents 33,000 doctors, says the UK health service is "underfunded, under doctored and overstretched".

Its open letter to May, signed by the RCP council's 46 members, also criticises the government's budget allocation to the NHS as being too small.

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"Our hospitals are over-full, with too few qualified staff," President Jane Dacre wrote.

"Patients are waiting longer on lists, on trolleys, in emergency departments and in their homes for the care they need."

Dacre told the BBC: "Our members fear that patients' lives are at risk because they can't get round to see patients who aren't in the emergency and accident department or are waiting for results to come back."

The letter comes as the Labour Party prepares to stage an all-day Commons debate over NHS funding. It is expected to centre on a motion calling for a rescue package for the beleaguered health service and for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to commit to four-hour A&E waiting time targets.

NHS Digital, the statistical arm of the NHS, this week published figures showing three times as many patients were forced to wait for more than 12 hours for a hospital bed last week than in the entire month of January 2016. The number of people over the age of 70 waiting more than 12 hours in A&E also increased almost threefold in the past two years.

Chris Moulton, vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: "These figures demonstrate that we don't have enough acute hospital beds or enough social care for a growing and ageing population.

"These elderly people are on trolleys, waiting for a bed. These figures are from the time people arrive at A&E and show just how bad things are."

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