Europe

Red Cross calls UK hospital crowding a "humanitarian crisis"

FILE In this Dec. 12, 2010 file photo of the NHS Logo. The British Red Cross says overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms has become a "humanitarian crisis." The charity says it has dispatched volunteers to help patients go home and free up hospital beds. It claims cuts to social-care funding by the Conservative government mean some patients can't be discharged because there is no support available, putting pressure on hospitals. Government supporters say the Red Cross is exaggerating the scale of the problem. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP, File)

FILE In this Dec. 12, 2010 file photo of the NHS Logo. The British Red Cross says overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms has become a "humanitarian crisis." The charity says it has dispatched volunteers to help patients go home and free up hospital beds. It claims cuts to social-care funding by the Conservative government mean some patients can't be discharged because there is no support available, putting pressure on hospitals. Government supporters say the Red Cross is exaggerating the scale of the problem. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

The British Red Cross says overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms has become a "humanitarian crisis."

The charity says it has dispatched volunteers to help patients go home and free up hospital beds. It claims cuts to social-care funding by the Conservative government mean some patients can't be discharged because there is no support available, putting pressure on hospitals.

Government supporters say the Red Cross is exaggerating the scale of the problem.

The often overstretched National Health Service generally sees a surge in demand during the cold winter months, and NHS England, which manages care in England, said Saturday that "plans remain in place to deal with additional demands."

The state-funded service, which provides free care to all Britons, is both a source of national pride and a political punching bag.