THOUSANDS of people waited more than the target four hours for emergency treatment at Southampton Hospital last month.

Latest figures reveal just 82 per cent of patients arriving at A&E were treated, admitted or discharged within four hours, the latest NHS England statistics show.

This means 2,205 people spent longer in the emergency department, way below the 95 per cent target introduced in 2004.

Across England, only 84 per cent of patients were seen within four hours in A&E departments last month, a record low.

The target was last met in July 2015.

The NHS is also performing at its worst-ever level on cancer care times and waits for operations.

Overall, a record 4.4 million patients are on the waiting list for cancer treatment, the figures show.

Health secretary Matt Hancock's suggestion that the NHS was in many ways performing better than ever was branded "staggeringly out of touch" by his Labour counterpart.

Mr Hancock pointed to the rising number of patients needing treatment and said the number of operations carried out had actually risen by 7 per cent over the last 12 months.

He told BBC Radio 4: "In many ways, the NHS is performing better than it ever has. The challenge is that demand is increasing as well.

"The performance of the system is incredible. The people who are working in the NHS are doing a remarkable job.

"We are putting record amounts of funding in over the next four years. We have got record numbers of doctors and nurses, with more to come."

But shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "This is staggeringly out of touch.

"Matt Hancock is clueless about the levels of pain and misery he and his Tory cuts have caused patients.

"He insists 'in many ways the NHS is performing better than it ever has' on the day it's confirmed the NHS A&E performance is the worst ever.

"This shows the Tories simply don't care about our NHS."

Richard Murray, chief executive of the King's Fund health think tank, said the statistics "lay bare the stark reality for patients across the country who are struggling to access NHS hospital services."

He added: "These figures underline the scale of the challenge for the next government, which will enter office when the NHS faces one of the worst winters in its history.

"This is a crisis in the making and winter won't wait; the new government must prioritise addressing chronic NHS staffing shortages and expediting measures to deal with the consultant pensions crisis, which is heaping additional pressures on A&E departments."