AS Theresa May was forced to apologise for the crisis in England’s health service, figures revealed that Scotland’s NHS has been coping with twice as many flu cases compared to a year ago – and a huge rise in A&E visits.

While the Prime Minister could only say that she knew the situation in England was “difficult” and “disappointing”, Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to NHS staff in Scotland and insisted there would be no blanket cancellation of routine procedures as there has been down south.

The First Minister tweeted: “Latest NHS update below: flu rates double last year; A&E attendances up 20%; @Scotambservice & @NHS24 demand up; Boards implementing winter plans – may involve some non urgent op deferrals, but no blanket cancellation til end Jan as in England. Grateful thanks to all NHS staff.”

READ MORE: Tories slated for ‘obsession’ with rigid immigration rules

Sturgeon was referring to statistics released yesterday by Health Protection Scotland. They showed double the number of people had flu during the final week of 2017 compared with the last week of 2016 – around 46 Scots in every 100,000 compared to 22 in every 100,000 for the same week 12 months earlier.

Across Scotland, 26,569 people visited A&E in the week ending December 24, up almost 20 per cent on 2016. There were 2565 calls to ambulance control centres on Hogmanay, an increase of 38.4 per cent on the previous year.

The Scottish Government admitted this had led to significant pressures on hospital wards in around half of Scotland’s NHS boards. Many hospitals are implementing winter plans, which may involve some non-urgent operations being deferred, but this would not happen on anything like the scale it has in England.

Health Minister Shona Robison also thanked NHS staff across Scotland, who she said were doing “a fantastic job”. Echoing Sturgeon, she added: “It is important for patients to be aware that while health boards continue to take all appropriate steps to respond to increased demand in line with their winter plans – which may include some deferral of non-urgent elective surgery – there is no blanket cancellation of non-urgent elective procedures for the month of January as has been the case in England.”

Tens of thousands of operations down south have been postponed, and new figures released yesterday revealed that 16,893 patients were left in ambulances for more than 30 minutes when they arrived at A&E over the Christmas period – a record high for this winter.

May said during a visit to a hospital in Surrey: “I know it’s difficult, I know it’s frustrating, I know it’s disappointing for people, and I apologise.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was “not good enough” to say the problems are “frustrating” and “disappointing”, and that the “Tory Government has caused this crisis”.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which rep- resents organisations across the healthcare system in England and Wales, warned that Thursday’s figures did not reflect the scale of the problem facing the health service.

He said: “Staff are working at full capacity, but the pressures are becoming intolerable.

“Figures from the last six weeks show the number of people arriving at A&E has remained fairly consistent but today’s results highlight the increasing number of people experiencing delays in ambulances as they arrive.

“The stats also mask the pressures which can be seen across all parts of the system – in social care, commun- ity and mental health services, as well as at the hospital front door and in our ambulance services.

“These delays cause distress to patients and their families but emergency departments are seen as a litmus test for the rest of the system. If the health service cannot cope at its front door, what lies behind it will also be struggling.”