HOSPITAL bosses say they have cut the number of patients on trolleys while the ambulance service enters its second highest alert level during the winter crisis.

NHS leaders at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester has seen a 'record' increase in the volume of seriously ill patients over Christmas with a spike at New Year.

The acute trust, which manages the hospital, announced they would no longer care for emergency patients 'routinely' on trolleys in A&E from December 1 last year although an exception would be made if 10 or more ambulances arrived within an hour.

Despite the increase in patient numbers, the trust says they have reduced the number of patients being cared for on trolleys in A&E.

However, they have yet to release data to substantiate this claim to the Worcester News.

Meanwhile, the West Midlands Ambulance Service is at the second highest alert level - "severe pressure" - as they face unprecedented volumes of 999 calls which this winter have been 15 per cent higher than last year.

The service is at Resource Escalation Action Plans (REAP) level three and the ambulance trust said more than 900 patients have had to wait more than an hour with delays costing them the equivalent of 23 12-hour shifts every day.

A spokesperson for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: "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 of time last year.

“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.

"Actions taken include recruiting extra medical staff, opening additional beds, opening a dedicated frailty unit, expanding our Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit on our Worcester site and a planned reduction in elective activity.

"Additional winter schemes – including the opening of Worcestershire Step Down Unit and the launch of the British Red Cross Assisted Discharge Service – began this week with the aim of further helping to improve patient flow through our hospitals."