HOSPITAL bosses have called the crisis at the city’s strained A&E “unsafe and unacceptable” after it was revealed the department has been running at three times over capacity.

The crisis at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester reached disturbing levels on December 20 last year, during the second nurses’ strike, when the city’s crammed A&E saw 176 people packed into a building only built for just 50 people.

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, described the crisis in the county’s hospitals as ‘very challenging, very difficult and very unsafe’ and it was “not going to get any better.”

The crisis in the county’s hospital has also been described by bosses as “appalling.”

The concerned hospital chief executive said the way that hospitals and the NHS were being run was “unsustainable” and demanded change.

“This isn’t sustainable,” he told the trust’s board at a meeting on January 12. “This isn’t a sustainable way of running acute hospitals and the NHS and something has to change.

“We’ve got to continue to do our bit in supporting our patients and our staff as best we can, but we are seeing a significant adverse impact on staff morale, on turnover and also just the health and wellbeing of our staff.”

“I don’t think I’m overstating it. I think it is a very serious period that we are having to deal with.”

He said the run-up to Christmas at the hospital had been a ‘horrible and torrid time’ for staff and patients and the overcrowded hospital had been “pushed to the extreme.”

“I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like it before,” he added.

“For us, [the] services in our hospitals … in my nearly 38 years in the NHS, it really is unprecedented. I know we said that during the Covid pandemic, but this is a significantly different order of challenge that we have been facing.”

“We would ordinarily expect the Christmas and New Year period to be busy but the reality for us is that it really has been a horrible time for patients and staff. And I can’t underplay that.”

Anita Day, chair of the acute trust board, said the situation at the overstretched hospital was “appalling and completely unsustainable.”

Dame Julie Moore, a non-executive director on the hospital trust board, said she was “upset and angry in equal measure” and apologised to patients for the poor standard of care at the county’s hospitals despite the “magnificent job” staff were doing “in circumstances well beyond their control.”

“I hope somewhere in these risk assessments that you are having to do, that we are stating that actually, we do not accept that it is a safe situation, and it has been forced us on by others’ decisions … and that is not acceptable, and it is not safe,” she said during the board meeting.

“In this day and age, this should not be happening.”