Worcestershire’s NHS chief has apologised to patients facing long waits to be seen at county hospitals.

Matthew Hopkins said there is “unprecedented” demand for hospital services, a situation made more challenging by a rise in Covid patients.

Covid cases in Worcestershire were at their highest level since April, as of July 5, with 117 people being treated at the three hospitals run by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust - Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.

Mr Hopkins, the Trust’s chief executive, said: “Demand on our hospital services remains very high with our staff facing unprecedented numbers of patients seeking urgent and emergency care.

READ MORE: New £8m unit to ease pressure on emergency care at city hospital

“We continue to work closely with West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) colleagues, GPs, community nurses and social workers to explore all possible ways of safely reducing waiting times and improving ambulance handovers, and we thank them for their continued focus.

“Despite our best efforts, the current level of demand on our emergency departments means some patients are waiting for longer than we would like, and we would like to apologise to them for that.

“Managing the beds we have available for patients who need an emergency admission is also being made more challenging by increasing numbers of patients infected with Covid-19, as well as those who do not have Covid.”

New hospital unit to ease pressure on emergency department

A new £8 million Acute Medical Unit was opened last week at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in a bid to ease the pressure on emergency care services. In addition to the 29-bed AMU, a 21-bed Pathway Discharge Unit is also being created.

The PDU nursing team will care for patients who have been identified as ready to be discharged  from hospital with additional support.

READ MORE: Number of Covid cases in Worcestershire at highest point since April

“These are just a couple of developments aimed at creating extra capacity, delivering a better patient experience and easing some of the pressure on our teams,” said Mr Hopkins.

“But this is a challenge that will require a whole healthcare system approach to tackle.”

Work is also continuing on a new expanded and relocated urgent and emergency care centre, which will fully open at the hospital next year.