WAITING times at A&E departments across the Portsmouth area are among the worst in England, a new report has claimed.
Regulator NHS Improvement has branded Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust as the third worst-performing health body in the nation when it came to waiting times at A&E.
It comes as a report revealed increased demand over winter caused the NHS to overspend as hospitals and other services struggled to treat patients.
Hospitals were seeing more patients than budgeted for, with many struggling to meet national standards of treatment in A&E departments.
Some 8,900 of the 35,292 patients seen by the A&E departments run by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust were forced to wait more than four hours for treatment.
It comes just days after an investigation by The News revealed one in seven people who attended A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, between December 2016 and January, only had minor injuries or illnesses that could have been treated elsewhere.
This has prompted calls for a new walk-in facility to be built in the north of the city to relieve the strain.
The latest figures also show NHS trusts in England racked up a deficit of nearly £900m in the first nine months of the 2016-17 financial year.
The study from April to December cover ambulances, mental health units and community services as well as hospitals - although most of the deficit has been accrued by the latter.
This comes despite the health service being given extra cash to help get their bank balances in the black after a record £2.45bn overspend in 2015-16.
Nationally, nine out of 10 hospitals spent the winter months overcrowded with unsafe numbers of patients on wards.
NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey said: ‘NHS providers are treating more patients than ever before, which is a tribute to the hard work and commitment of their staff.
‘But times are extremely challenging, and things are unlikely to get any easier in the short term.
‘However, we’re fully committed to helping providers improve their services for patients now and tomorrow.’
However, health chiefs predicted this shortfall could be cut slightly by the end of the financial year in April to between £750m and £850m.