ANOTHER surge in demands means A&E at Hereford County Hospital can take “serious health conditions” only.

Wye Valley NHS Trust (WVT) has warned today (Tues) of the “extreme pressure” A&E is currently under from patients presenting with with "emergencies" which could be treated more appropriately, and more quickly, at  minor injury units or even  pharmacies.

Recent weeks have seen a run on A&E that even the new clinical assessment unit - opened at the end of last year - is struggling to slow.

WVT has already had put patient safety action plans in place and clinical teams are again having to postpone operations - at least over this week -  to meet urgent treatment demand.

WVT is also working across the health and care sector on support for patients being discharged to free up bed space. Families, too, are being urged to “rally round” relatives ready to go home.

“Our members of staff are under extraordinary pressure and we appeal to all patients to think twice and consider the alternatives before turning up at A&E", said WVT chief operating officer Neil Doverty.

David Farnsworth, Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) lead for urgent care, said: “The CCG is keen that patients get optimal care from the most appropriate service and A&E is appropriate for patients with life threatening or serious conditions.

“Primary care is designed to support patients when they are unwell and we always encourage the appropriate use of community pharmacy and GP surgeries for advice and treatment”.

Figures for December  show the performance of the emergency department deteriorating sharply due to increased bed pressures.

Though the department processed the care and treatment needs of patients appropriately, there was not the immediate access to empty beds.

The month saw attendances increase and numerous spikes in emergency demand.

Though progress was made in driving down the number of long stay patients, those numbers have started to rise again.

Over December alone bed occupancy averaged 94% with additional unfunded beds opened on eight separate days.

A&E attendances averaged around 130 a day and ranged from 96 to 193.