RECORD levels of patients have been taken by ambulance to both the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Worcestershire Royal over the Christmas period.
Figures for the period December 22 to January 1 show an extra seven ambulances per day going to the Alex and an extra five per day arriving at the Royal.
At the same time ‘walking wounded’ figures have also increased, with staff at the Royal seeing an additional six patients on average per day while at the Alex the number surged by an extra 15 per day.
Despite this, and the NHS over the entire country under severe strain, the hospitals, backed by the county’s Minor Injuries Units, have withstood the pressure.
A spokesperson for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Like many hospitals across the country we have been extremely busy throughout the Christmas and New Year period, with New Year’s Eve being particularly challenging.
“We have seen a year-on-year increase in people coming through our Emergency Departments and with higher than expected numbers of seriously ill patients arriving by ambulance every day throughout the holiday period we have experienced periods of considerable pressure.
“Despite this, fewer patients are having to endure long waits to be admitted to a ward and we have also been able to significantly reduce our use of the Emergency Department corridor compared to the same period last year.
“In general the countywide winter plan we have developed with other local NHS organisations and the county council is helping us to care for record numbers of patients in need of urgent medical attention.”
These include the new Frailty Unit at the Alex and an expanded Ambulatory Care Unit at the Royal.
On Wednesday Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt apologised to patients for the pressure the NHS was under, with the government extending an existing ban on non-urgent surgery until the end of the month.
In Worcestershire the acute Trust decided in September to reduce elective surgery, mainly at the Royal, until the end of January. This plan was implemented in the week before Christmas. However not all electives were suspended.
“Our services are still facing high levels of demand, and we would again appeal to local people to think carefully about alternatives to A&E – including the county’s Minor Injuries Units – if they need urgent care,” said the spokesperson.
Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch County, said: “As we all know, the Alex and other hospitals in the county are facing significant and increasing pressures this winter.
“I have spoken to the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and I have been assured the winter plan they have put in place is working and they are better prepared compared to this time last year. I will continue to monitor the situation.”