Ambulance handover delays in England remain high, though the number of patients with Covid-19 or norovirus is falling, according the final weekly hospital situation report this season.
The figures come ahead of what health chiefs warn will be an “even more challenging” period for the NHS, with the Easter bank holiday weekend followed by four days of strike action by junior doctors.
Some 27% of ambulance patients waited 30 minutes or longer last week to be handed to A&E teams, down slightly from 28% the previous week, while 12% waited over an hour, unchanged from a week earlier.
The figure for delays of at least half an hour has run at 20% or higher throughout the winter and early spring, except for the end of January when it dipped briefly to 18%, NHS data shows.
Levels peaked at a record 44% at the start of the year, when hospitals were battling a twin surge in cases of flu and Covid-19.
An average of 274 beds per day were taken up by flu patients last week, the lowest figure for the 2022/23 season.
Covid-19 levels also look to be falling again, having been on an upwards path since late January.
The number of patients in hospital who tested positive for coronavirus averaged 7,519 in the week to April 5, down week-on-week from 8,224.
Meanwhile, an average of 370 adult hospital beds per day were occupied last week by patients with diarrhoea and vomiting or norovirus-like symptoms.
This is down a third (33%) from 554 in the previous week, but is higher than the figure at this point last year, when the average stood at 188.
Ambulance handover delays are often linked to a shortage of space caused by people who no longer need to be in hospital.
An average of 13,174 beds per day last week were filled by people ready to be discharged, compared with 12,872 at this point last year.
Overall, 43% of medically fit patients in England were discharged last week, though the rate varied between regions, from 31% in the North West to 53% in eastern England.
Prof Powis warned that next week will be “even more challenging” for NHS services, with pressures caused by the bank holiday weekend followed by four days of industrial action by junior doctors.
“To help the NHS limit disruption as much as we can through what will be an extremely challenging week, please continue to use services by calling 999 in life-threatening emergencies only, and using 111 for other urgent health conditions.
“Some pharmacies, GP practices and dentists may be closed for the long weekend, so it is also important to plan ahead to ensure you can get the help you need and are able to enjoy this Easter period.”
Junior doctors in England will take strike action from 7am on April 11 to 7am on April 15 in an ongoing dispute over pay.
NHS England publishes weekly hospital situation reports from late autumn through the early spring, covering a range of measures including bed occupancy, virus levels, ambulance handovers and delayed discharges.
Thursday’s report is the final weekly report for this season.
Monthly performance figures are published throughout the year.