Almost a third of patients who visited A&E in December were left waiting for more than four hours, statistics show.

Statistics from NHS England show around 31 per cent of those who visited a West Herts NHS Trust A&E service during December had to wait more than four hours between arriving and being either admitted, transferred or discharged.

As well as this, around 12.5 per cent of people were left waiting four hours between a decision on their condition and their admission to hospital.

This comes as NHS England revealed a record high number of patients were left waiting for A&E treatment over the course of the month.

A group of clinicians from hospital trusts around the country also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, saying some patients were left to die in corridors due to the lack of resource for the health service.

A statement from West Herts NHS Trust, about extended winter waiting times, said: "Health services are particularly busy at the moment and we are asking everyone to think carefully before coming to the emergency department at Watford General Hospital.

"In response to a high level of patient admissions, we have opened up additional beds. In line with the new national guidance on handling winter pressures, we are prioritising emergency patients and reviewing non-urgent activities.

"A&E is for patients requiring emergency care for serious and life-threatening conditions. We are asking local people to use the service carefully so it can best support those who need it most – for example, people with serious injuries, chest pain or significant blood loss. We can all help by not over-burdening the service and using it only when we need to."

The spokesman also suggested using Hemel Hempstead Urgent Treatment Centre or the Minor Injuries Unit at St Albans City Hospital, as well as calling NHS 111 or speaking to a pharmacist for advice.