Secret files found in Biden’s garage

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Prince William and the Princess of Wales also looked relaxed as they opened the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Meanwhile, Harry’s ghostwriter defended the book from claims of inaccuracies and historical errors. Michael Deacon writes that Harry’s hypocrisy is hilarious – but also desperately sad.

The big story: NHS gripped by ‘deep crisis’

The turmoil facing the NHS has been exposed by new figures which reveal shocking wait times. These include how heart attack victims were forced to wait an average of 90 minutes for an ambulance last month, in the worst waiting times on record. 

Our health editor Laura Donnelly writes that the figure is almost half an hour worse than the previous high with delays of around an hour for such patients in October. The target is 18 minutes. 

Think tanks warned of a “deep crisis” across the NHS, with widespread and sustained problems across the service. Figures for A&E waits were also the worst on record, though the total number of people on the NHS waiting list has fallen slightly, the statistics show. Check waiting times and death rates across England and at your local hospital by entering your postcode here.

The data from NHS England shows the average response time in December for ambulances dealing with the most urgent incidents, defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, was 10 minutes and 57 seconds. This is also the worst performance on record and is set against a target of seven minutes.

 Asked whether Rishi Sunak thought it was acceptable that category 2 ambulance waiting times for issues such as strokes or chest pain averaged more than 90 minutes in December, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No, and obviously people will rightly be concerned by the performance statistics out today.” 

Allister Heath writes that the dysfunctionality of the NHS is becoming a stain on our global reputation.

12-hour A&E queues

The figures for England also showed a record 54,532 people waited more than 12 hours in A&E departments last month from a decision to admit to actually being admitted. 

And the proportion of patients seen within four hours in England’s A&Es fell to a record low of 65 per cent in December. Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at The King’s Fund, said there was “no shying away from the reality that the NHS is deep in crisis”. 

The news comes a day after up to 25,000 ambulance workers walked out on strike in a dispute with the Government over pay. Nurses are set to take industrial action again across England in January – here are the dates of all the strikes.

New statins guidance

Anyone who wants to take statins should be able to opt for the cholesterol-busting drugs under radical new NHS guidance. Currently around 8 million people in the UK take the drugs to ward off heart attacks and strokes. 

But England’s chief medical officer is concerned by a sharp rise in heart deaths since the pandemic, which may be caused by a fall in the numbers being put on medication during lockdown. 

Laura Donnelly writes that the new draft guidance from the National Institute of Health Care Excellence says the decision about whether to take the drugs should be left to individual patients.

Comment and analysis

World news: Classified files found in Biden’s garage

The US President has admitted that classified documents from his time as vice president were found in his garage next to his Corvette. The discovery – the second this week – was made by Mr Biden’s own lawyers. Our US editor Nick Allen writes that they launched a search of his properties after 10 classified documents from when he was vice president were found in his personal office at a think tank in Washington. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has accused a minister of “fooling around” and “not trying hard enough” to acquire more military and civilian aircraft for the war in Ukraine.

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