More patients were treated at Whipps Cross Hospital’s A&E department within the national four-hour target in January than this time last year, despite huge winter strains on the NHS.

Figures published on Thursday by Barts Health, which operates the Leytonstone hospital, show 88 per cent of accident and emergency patients were seen within four hours last month.

In January 2017, only 77 per cent of patients received treatment within the target time.

The hospital treated more than 15,000 patients last month, 1,400 more than it did in the same period last year.

Whipps emergency department and paediatrics clinical director, Dr Charlotte Hopkins, said: “It’s been a really tough winter this year, with huge demand on our emergency department.

“Staff across the hospital have pulled together as one team and our partners have been doing everything they can to provide alternative community care or help patients leave hospital as soon as they’re healthy enough.

“It means we’ve kept more beds free for the most poorly patients coming through our doors.”

Whipps was however forced to cancel non-urgent operations scheduled to take place in January as the NHS winter crisis hit hospitals across the country.

The health service saw demand saw in December and January, with more than 4,700 emergency patients suffering long waits to be seen in A&E, in the week between Christmas and the new year.

A total of 16,893 patients endured ambulance delays of more than 30 minutes over the festive stretch - up from 11,852 the previous week to a record high for this winter.

In the first week of January, the bed occupancy level in hospitals across England stood at 90.9 per cent - above the recommended safe limit of 85 per cent.