A BOSS at Hereford County Hospital says she has never seen such a high demand for services.

Jane Ives, managing director at the Wye Valley NHS Trust, which runs Hereford County Hospital, said the NHS in Herefordshire is still facing extreme pressure.

She has thanked the local people supporting the NHS, adding: "Having worked in the NHS for more than 40 years, I can say that I’ve never seen such high demand on our services."

She said the trust had triggered plans so that it can care for more patients on wards than normal, with extra beds brought in. On November 30, there were 313 total general and acute beds open at Hereford County Hospital and the community hospitals elsewhere in the county.


By December 31, the total number of beds had risen to 360.

Staff are also being redeployed to work in areas where there is most need, with the hospital previously warning it was seeing patients with flu at a level never seen before in the county.

She said the trust has also been caring for more patients in their own homes.

"These actions allow us to move A&E patients onto wards more speedily which means quicker patient handovers from colleagues in the ambulance service so we can quickly give our most seriously ill patients the care they need.

"Importantly this also releases ambulances to respond to the next 999 call."

Latest figures show that during the week to January 1, 190 hours were lost to ambulance handover delays, which is the time patients spent with paramedics at the hospital before being handed over to A&E staff.

This can either be in the hospital or in ambulances outside, with 94 patients waiting for more than 60 minutes. That means around 50 per cent of patients faced a wait of an hour or more, above the England average of 34 per cent.

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That is lower than the 223 hours lost to handover delays in the week to December 25, with 105 patients waiting for more than an hour.

Jane Ives said: "There is extreme pressure on our staff members and I’d like to pay tribute to the heroic way they are responding – many are working long shifts and a number have offered to work when they are not on shift to support colleagues caring for patients."

She also thanked people for not going to Hereford's A&E department, which is the only one in the county and also caters for patients in a large part of Mid Wales.

She said there are alternatives – like patients getting advice from their local pharmacy or contacting NHS111.


"I commend all those who have made use of these in recent weeks," she said.

"At times like this colleagues from all parts of the NHS pull together and I’d like to pay tribute to colleagues in primary care who have also been working extremely hard seeing and treating more patients.

"They have seen 25 per cent more patients this winter than they did 12 months ago.

"Our colleagues in social care are often unsung heroes and they too have been working exceptionally hard to secure social care provision for people and jointly we have plans to invest in more community capacity over the next few weeks."

In a final plea, she also said that if anyone has a relative in hospital, they should help the NHS get them home as soon as possible when they are ready to be discharged.

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