THE NHS is facing increasing pressure across the country, and Herefordshire is no exception – with hospitals issuing an urgent call for staff to work during their annual leave.

County hospitals made the urgent call for help from off-duty staff amid “extreme pressure”.

The Wye Valley NHS Trust, which runs Hereford County Hospital, said the problems came from the number of acutely-ill patients arriving at hospital.


The trust, which also runs community hospitals in Leominster, Bromyard and Ross-on-Wye, said things had been made worse by difficulties in discharging patients into the community.

It comes after several warnings over the last week that people should only visit the accident and emergency department in Hereford if they really need to.

On New Year’s Eve, the trust called for staff who are not working and may be on annual leave, but would be available to work, to contact the county hospital “as soon as possible”.

Want to get the latest breaking news alerts sent straight to you? It's easy, just sign up for our breaking news email alerts here and the most important stories will be delivered straight to your inbox.

The hospitals have also asked patients and visitors to wear face masks again as flu cases rise to Herefordshire’s highest-ever levels. They were also asked not to attend hospital if feeling unwell.

Latest figures showed that 48 beds were occupied by patients with flu, with four more in a critical care bed, on Christmas Day.

During that week, the trust had up to 334 general and acute beds across its hospitals, with the number occupied peaking at 307 on December 22.


An online waiting times tracker on the trust website has shown that patients, at times, could be waiting up to 12 hours to see a doctor at the accident and emergency departments (A&E).

As for ambulances arriving at A&E, several hours are now being lost to delayed handovers.

Since November 27, most days saw no more than 15 hours lost to handover delays – but on December 19, that hit a whopping 61 hours.

Some 25 of the 45 patients arriving by ambulance faced a wait of more than an hour – which can be in the back of ambulances or inside the hospital.

On Christmas day, 23 of the 53 patients arriving by ambulance waited an hour or more.

Chief nursing officer Lucy Flanagan, said people should consider alternatives including GPs, pharmacies and NHS 111 if it is not a medical emergency, as the department was “very busy with increased attendances and emergency patient admissions”.