Hospitals are so full that elderly patients are being discharged in the middle of the night and routine blood tests are being conducted at 3am, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has warned.
As bed spaces for acute care become increasingly under demand, patients are being turfed from ward to ward which is leading to poor continuity of care, the RCP said.
Doctors on wards up and down the country are struggling to care for patients who require urgent or emergency care, according to a report, Hospitals On The Edge? The time for action.
As queues at the doors of accident and emergency wards increase, patients who are already admitted to the hospital are shipped from one ward to another "like parcels", to make bed space.
"Hospitals have filled up," said Dr Andrew Goddard, medical director for the RCP workforce unit. "This has been coming on for a while.
"We have managed to cope with it but the system can't cope much longer, and we need to radically rethink how we provide the care for acute medical patients, particularly the elderly."