Ambulance handover delays outside hospitals in England have risen to their highest level since the start of the year.
Some 28% of patients waited at least half an hour last week to be handed to A&E teams, up from 23% the previous week, according to NHS data.
Around one in eight (12%) patients waited over an hour, up from around one in 11 (9%).
These are the highest percentages since the first week of January, when 36% of patients had to wait at least 30 minutes and 19% waited more than 60 minutes.
The figures suggest hospitals are still struggling to find room for new arrivals, with handover delays often linked to a shortage of space caused by people who no longer need to be in beds.
An average of 13,367 beds per day last week were filled by people ready to be discharged – around a sixth higher than the 11,619 waiting at this point last year.
Overall, 43% of medically fit patients in England were discharged last week, but the rate varies between regions, from 31% in the North West to 53% in eastern England.
In some NHS trusts the rate is close to one in 20, with 7% at the Northern Care Alliance in Greater Manchester, 6% at both Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals in Surrey and Liverpool University Hospitals, and just 5% at Stockport Foundation Trust, according to analysis by the PA news agency.
There are also sharp differences across England in the level of ambulance handover delays.
Of those trusts reporting more than 1,000 ambulance arrivals last week, just 3% of arrivals were delayed for at least 30 minutes at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, along with 12% at the Frimley Health Foundation Trust in Berkshire and Surrey.
This compares with 43% for the East Suffolk & North Essex Foundation Trust, 44% for the Mid & South Essex Foundation Trust and 50% for the University Hospitals of Leicester.