Three in five people who arrived at accident and emergency at the Royal Surrey County Hospital were seen within four hours last month, new figures show – missing the NHS recovery target.

The NHS standard is for 95% of patients to be seen within four hours. However, the Government announced a two-year plan to stabilise NHS services earlier this year which set a recovery target of 76% of patients being seen within four hours by March 2024.

NHS England figures show there were 6,645 visits to A&E at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in December. Of them, 3,946 were seen within four hours – accounting for 59% of arrivals.

It means the trust fell significantly short of the recovery target and the NHS standard.

Across England, 69% of patients were seen within four hours last month, down slightly from November. The figure hit a record low of 65% in December 2022.

The numbers also show 44,045 people waited over 12 hours in A&E departments – including specialty departments and minor injury units – from a decision to admit to actually being admitted, up from 42,854 patients in October.

At Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, 602 patients waited longer than four hours, including 134 who were delayed by more than 12 hours.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: "Behind each of these figures is a person who is struggling to receive the timely care they need and deserve, despite the best efforts of staff."

She added the NHS attempted to increase capacity ahead of winter, but remains "hamstrung by repeated short-term decisions" such as the delayed release of additional winter funding.

She said: "To end this cycle of poor performance, the government must make long-term decisions to put the service back on track year-round.

"This includes making health and care a more attractive place to build a career, bolstering out-of-hospital care such as primary, community and social care services, and helping people live healthier lives through a focus on preventing ill health."

About 2.2 million people attended A&E departments across England last month.

The overall number of attendances to A&E at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in December was a slight drop from the 7,071 visits recorded during November, and 5% lower than the 7,002 patients seen in December 2022.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: "We have experienced the toughest possible start to 2024 with the longest set of strikes in our 75-year history, but we remain focused on doing all we can to make progress on the covid backlog that has inevitably built up over the pandemic."

He added pressure on the NHS is "not going anywhere" while the impact of flu and Covid continues to grow.

He urged the public to come forward for care if needed by contacting their GP or 111 online with any health concerns and only using 999 and A&E in emergencies.