As the colder weather takes its toll on the health of the nation, we have looked into how well Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is coping with winter pressures.

During winter, NHS England publishes weekly reports which give insight into how well hospital trusts are managing – looking at ambulance delays, bed occupancy and long stays in hospitals.

How did Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust handle the week from February 24 to March 1?

Ambulance waits

Last week, 1,035 patients were brought by ambulance to A&E at the trust. The busiest day was Monday, when 171 patients arrived.

Over the week, 231 arrivals waited 30 minutes or more to be transferred to the emergency department – despite NHS guidelines saying all patients should be transferred within 15 minutes.

Of these, 73 patients waited an hour or longer.

Bed availability

General and acute wards at the trust were 97.9% full on average last week – significantly above the 85% rate the British Medical Association suggests should not be exceeded to ensure safe patient care.

The occupancy rate was slightly higher than the 97.3% recorded the previous week.

Above 92%, NHS Improvement says that deterioration in A&E performance begins to accelerate.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust was more than 92% full every day last week.

On average, the trust had 788 beds available to use each day last week, including 12 escalation beds, which are used in emergencies and periods of high demand. Just 17 beds were free on an average day.

Long-stay patients

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, hospital staff are being encouraged to reduce lengthy hospital stays for patients recovering from an operation or illness. NHS England says the move is aimed at improving care options and freeing up 7,000 beds nationally – the equivalent of 15 large hospitals.

On Sunday, 315 patients had been in hospital for seven days or more at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust. They accounted for 41% of all beds occupied.

Occupying 13% of beds, 96 patients had been in hospital for three weeks or longer.


Norovirus, also called the winter vomiting bug, causes vomiting and diarrhoea. As it is contagious, staff can close beds in hospital wards to prevent it spreading.

When the disease was at its peak at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust last week, 16 beds were closed.

The previous week, norovirus closed up to four beds.

Commenting on the situation across the country's hospitals, an NHS spokesperson said: “NHS staff are working round the clock to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, with 111 services dealing with over 120,000 more calls than the same week last year.

“That’s why we’re already recruiting 500 additional initial call responders to answer up to 20,000 more 111 calls every day, with further staffing increases in train, providing a new online service which can provide advice at the touch of a button, and boosting the availability of clinical advice for those who need it.”