The number of free NHS hospital beds in England has sunk to the lowest level ever recorded as soaring demand continues to put the health service under intense pressure.
NHS England stats released on Thursday revealed that between 1-4 January 2023, 96.06% of general and acute beds were occupied.
During this time 95.54% of all beds, including critical care, were occupied.
These figures beat records set at the end of 2022.
On 31 December 2022, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Adrian Boyle, said: "In November, we recorded the highest ever hospital occupancy at 94.4%. I would be amazed if that has gone down over December. It almost certainly would have gone up."
On a day-to-day basis, 4 January saw the highest-ever numbers, with 96.86% of general and acute beds being occupied and 96.35% of all beds including critical care occupied.
The figures excluded maternity and mental health beds, and are a snapshot taken from 8am on the day of reporting.
The crisis facing the NHS has been at the top of the political agenda since the start of the new year.
Stories of people being forced to wait almost a day in A&E and ambulances piling up outside hospitals unable to offload their patients have been shared widely.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak used his first major speech of the year to discuss the crisis facing the health system.
Amid warnings from senior doctors that the NHS is under intolerable pressure, Sunak said that "waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly".
He said patients were not getting the treatment that they deserve and that "something has to change".
The government has blamed high numbers of flu cases, COVID-19 and Strep A fears for the particular pressures the NHS faced over Christmas, even as health leaders have warned that the problems are longstanding and cannot solely be pinned on the pandemic or seasonal illnesses.
NHS England data shows flu-related admissions rose 79% in the week between Christmas and the new year.
The latest figures showed that COVID and flu hospital admissions fell last week from the end of December, but remain high.
Speaking on Tuesday the prime minister ruled out cancelling non-emergency surgeries, like they were in the pandemic, to tackle the issue.
He said he wanted to get waiting lists to start falling this year.
The crisis in A&E has also spilled over into a crisis for ambulances.
More than a dozen NHS trusts and ambulance services declared critical incidents over the festive period.
Ambulance handover times are currently at a record high, with one in five patients in England waiting more than an hour to be handed to A&E teams in the week leading up to Christmas.
NHS trusts have a target of 95% of all ambulance handovers to be completed within 30 minutes, with 100% within 60 minutes, but many are nowhere close to this.