One in eight ambulance patients waited more than an hour to be handed over to accident and emergency services at the North Cumbria Integrated Care Trust last week, new figures show.

The Royal College of Nursing, a staff body for the profession, said the healthcare system is "dangerously close to overheating completely".

NHS England figures show 75 (13%) patients waited in an ambulance for at least one hour when they arrived at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust A&E in the week to Sunday (December 18) – though this was down from 88 (17%) the week before.

A further 113 patients were forced to wait between 30 minutes and one hour, meaning 32% of the 589 total ambulance arrivals were delayed by half an hour or more, and at least 116 hours were lost.

The figures cover the week before a 24-hour strike by ambulance staff across England and Wales over complaints of poor working conditions and pay.