Ambulances are waiting longer outside A&E in Sheffield as patient turnover time hit a 12-month low, new figures show.
The percentage of 999 arrivals that were handed over to A&E staff within the 15 minute NHS target time fell to 42 per cent in January - a 20 per cent drop on the same month in 2016.
Figures also show the number of patients waiting more than 30 minutes rose by over three per cent.
Bosses at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, which runs Northern General's A&E department said the latest figures coincided with 'exceptional demand for emergency care' and the 'sheer numbers' of people attending A&E.
A report drawn up by city hospital bosses said the number of patients waiting for a bed in the department meant 'trolleys remained occupied' and at times of peak demand, A&E was 'unable to take handovers' from the ambulances leading to the increase in longer waits.
Michael Harper, chief operating officer at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals said: "We have been working with Yorkshire Ambulance to make further improvements by introducing new systems at the entrance to A&E.
"However In January we experienced exceptional demand for emergency care and the sheer numbers of people attending A&E meant the percentage of ambulance handovers completed within 15 minutes did fall to a lower level than normal.
"Patients can be assured though that as soon as an ambulance arrives we transfer the patient straight away into the A&E department, they do not wait in the ambulance for handover to occur.
"We work hard not to delay the ambulance staff any longer than necessary in the A&E department but it is essential that we clerk each patient before the ambulance crew can leave.
"At busy times our staff have to prioritise giving clinical care first and this can prolong the clerking time.
"As the busiest and largest Emergency department and Major Trauma Centre in the region we can have up to 150 ambulances in one day during the busy winter months.
Dr David Macklin, executive director of operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service said: “Effective handovers from the ambulance service to hospital emergency departments are an integral part of delivering the best clinical care for patients and we work together closely to monitor ambulance turnaround times.
“Many hospital emergency departments across the country have been experiencing very high demand which, understandably, has resulted in delayed handovers. Yorkshire Ambulance Service continues to work closely with hospitals and other NHS partners in Yorkshire and the Humber to try to resolve any issues and minimise the impact on patients.”