The number of patients being admitted to hospital as an emergency is even higher than at the peak of the winter crisis, new figures show.
The official statistics come as hospitals are ordered to “urgently” empty up to 3,000 blocked beds with new league tables published showing which have the worst delays caused by lack of social care.
NHS watchdogs have written to every trust in the country with an assessment of how many beds are being used by patients with no need to be there.
Hospitals have been told to ensure that a £2bn investment in social care is used to “free up” thousands of beds, amid record levels of crowding. An NHS plan to free up beds before winter pressures mounted, and reduce occupancy to safe levels of 85 per cent failed, and occupancy remains at 95 per cent.
Latest official NHS figures show the number of emergency admissions is the highest so far this winter, peaking on Friday 10th March with 14,847 cases.
The figures for the week ending 12 March also show the number of patients turning to A&E is the highest since December.
During the week, there were 19 temporary diverts from one A&E to another to provide temporary respite. Overall, there have been around 84 per cent more diverts this winter than last winter.
Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, said: “Standards for NHS patients have collapsed this winter because Theresa May just hasn’t given the health service the resources and the priority it needs.
“It beggars belief that such pressure is still being seen on A&E after months of crisis – it is a sign of a wider system creaking under the strain of Tory neglect.
A letter from Jim Mackey, chief executive, NHS Improvement, sent to all hospitals today warns of a “significant increase” in the number of patients ending up stuck in hospital for long periods.
“We need as many as possible of the 2,000-3,000 blocked beds to be freed up and flowing smoothly going into winter,” he states.
The data sets out estimates of how many beds are being used by patients who should have been discharged and given social care.
The monthly figures show University Hospitals Birmingham NHS foundation trust lost 2,210 bed days for want of council care in January. Without such cases, the trust would have freed up 73 empty beds - the equivalent of at least two more wards.
Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation trust lost 1,743 days for want of social care - meaning the local authority used up 58 of its beds.
A spokesperson from NHS Improvement said: “NHS trusts must urgently start working with social care providers to ensure that the additional funding allocated in the budget is spent where it is most needed, and that the estimated 2,000-3,000 beds occupied by patients who could be better cared for outside of hospital are freed up for those who are seriously ill.
“We run the risk that the additional funding will not have the intended impact if NHS trusts do not work proactively with their social care colleagues.”
Mr Mackey, who earns £215,000 to £220,000, is among more than 600 NHS officials at central bodies on six figure salaries.
The number of officials earning more than the Prime Minister's £149,440 has doubled in three years, while the NHS last year recorded the highest deficit in its history.
The trusts with the highest numbers of bed days lost for lack of social care
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS foundation trust 2,210
Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation trust 1,743
University Hospital of South Manchester NHS foundation trust 1,664
University Hospital Southampton NHS foundation trust 1,654
Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation trust 1,453
Salford royal NHS foundation trust 1,305
Hampshire Hospitals NHS foundation trust 1,244
West London Mental Health trust 1,009
Heart of England NHS foundation trust 908
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS foundation trust 898
Source: NHS Improvement, data for January