PICTURES have emerged of patients lying on hospital floors as they wait to be treated – a situation branded ‘”deeply troubling” by an MP.

It comes as new NHS winter pressure figures revealed that nearly 2,000 patients have been kept waiting in the back of ambulances for more than half an hour outside the district’s A&E departments this winter.

Now Batley & Spen MP Tracy Brabin has released what she described as “shocking photographs of patients sleeping on floors” at Pinderfields Hospital over Christmas.

But a boss for the Wakefield hospital, used by many people from the Spen Valley, told the Telegraph & Argus the patients in the photos “may have chosen to lie down, as seats were provided.”

Ms Brabin said she had been “inundated” with constituents telling her their difficulties of being treated over the festive period. She said: “While we know staff are working flat out it is deeply troubling to hear Jeremy Hunt say that no patient is left on a trolley when clearly some are forced to wait on hospital floors before being treated.

“With one stroke victim waiting over three hours for an ambulance it is understandable how clinicians are calling this the worst crisis they have ever seen.”

David Melia, Director of Nursing and Quality at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust responsible for Pinderfields, said it had received no complaints “regarding the care of the two patients identified in the photographs, who may have chosen to lie down, as seats were provided.”

He added: “Should visitors have any concerns about patient care they should speak to a member of staff at the time.”

According to NHS winter pressure figures, 1,325 patients have faced waits of half an hour or more in ambulances outside Bradford Royal Infirmary’s A&E so far this winter, with 464 of them being held up for over an hour during a 42-day period between November 20 and New Year’s Eve.

During the same time, 607 patients faced waits of longer than 30 minutes in ambulances outside Airedale General Hospital’s A&E unit, while 219 were kept waiting for at least one hour.

Analysis of the same official figures also showed Bradford and Airedale Hospitals have suffered from almost full high bed occupancy rates.

Medical Director of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Bryan Gill said during that recorded winter period, the Trust received around 17,000 attendances with around 5,000 ambulances arriving at its A&E department.

“This has inevitably meant that some people brought in by ambulance have had to wait a length of time due to the sheer volume of people needing help. Bed occupancy rates have also been very high due to the large numbers of people who have been very ill and had to be admitted onto our wards. Our priority is to maintain patient safety at all times and to treat people as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust chief operating officer Stacey Hunter said its ambulance handovers were always completed safely in accordance with procedures and without lengthy waits. “We have been experiencing a high level of A&E attendances, a five per cent increase on last year and people can help to reduce waiting times by only using A&E in an emergency,” she said.

Glenn Turp, Regional Director for the Royal College of Nursing in the Yorkshire and the Humber region said NHS Trusts are at “bursting point”.

He said: “Nursing staff are struggling to hold the NHS together and the situation continues to get worse with increasing demand from an ageing population and a severe nursing recruitment and retention problem.

“The RCN has been warning of under-investment in nursing staff for years. That underlying problem has now developed into a full-blown crisis. We cannot continue to rely on the enormous goodwill and commitment of staff to keep the system going.”

Earlier this week NHS England urged hospitals to defer pre-planned operations and routine outpatient appointments until January 31 due to severe winter pressures.

A spokesman for Bradford Teaching Hospitals said it had not cancelled any pre-planned operations to date despite experiencing “sustained pressure” over the Christmas and New Year with high levels of respiratory illness and very ill people attending A&E who needed to be admitted to hospital.

He added: “It may be necessary to reschedule some routine appointments to free up capacity for our sickest patients but under these circumstances all essential services such as emergency and urgent surgery would continue as normal.”

However, Airedale NHS Trust has been cancelling pre-planned operations since December 19 to make sure it can cope with increased numbers of patients needing more urgent care.