‘I’ve got a rubber stuck in my ear’: 7 days in A&E
17 March 2014 Last updated at 00:25 GMT
Over a million more patients are attending A&E departments in England than in 2010.
Panorama spent 7 days filming in the A&E department of the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, to discover why.
While there they saw staff racing to meet targets, a regular visitor who says he attends A&E every week, and a patient with a rubber stuck in his ear.
Panorama: 7 Days in A&E: Condition Critical?, BBC One, Monday 17 March at 20:30 GMT and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.