Nurses say conditions in the NHS are the worst they have experienced, the Royal College of Nursing has said.
In a separate move, 50 leading doctors have warned the prime minster in a letter that lives are being put at risk due to mounting pressures on the NHS.
Charities working with elderly people said long-term solutions were needed, with a similar call from a group of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MPs.
Health officials said they were investing more in care.
The fresh calls for government action come a day after documents leaked to the BBC showed record numbers of patients are facing long waits in A&Es in England.
The document compiled by regulator NHS Improvement shows this winter is proving to be the most difficult for more than a decade, with nearly a quarter of patients waiting longer than four hours in A&E last week.
Janet Davies, chief executive at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said she had heard from frontline nurses who wanted to give the best care they could to their patients but were told to discharge them before they were fit just to free up beds.
One sister in charge of a major treatment centre in accident and emergency, told the RCN: “At one point our treatment area, meant for 20 patients, had 56 patients crowded in corridors and around the nursing station.
“Our resuscitation room built for six regularly had seven.”
The college said nurses from Scotland to London had reported serious concerns about the quality of care they were able to provide.
Meanwhile a letter from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), called for urgent investment to help “over-full hospitals with too few qualified staff”.
‘Lives at risk’
Speaking to the BBC, Prof Jane Dacre, president of the RCP, said: “Our members tell me it is the worst it has ever been in terms of patients coming in during a 24-hour period and numbers of patients coming in when there are no beds to put them in.
“And there are patients within the hospital who can no longer get home because of the difficulties there are in placing people in social care.”
She added: “Our members fear that patients’ lives are at risk because they can’t get round to see patients who aren’t in the emergency and accident department or are waiting for results to come back.”
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