PATIENTS in the Wye Valley area are being asked only to visit A&E at Hereford County Hospital in an emergency after operations had to be cancelled to meet demand.

High demand for A&E services in the area is putting extreme pressure on the hospital with many patients attending with minor injuries which would be better treated elsewhere.

Alternatives to A&E available in the county include Minor Injury Units in Ledbury, Leominster, Kington and Ross-on-Wye – which are open from 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday – as well as the 24-hour walk-in centre in Asda in Belmont Road, Hereford.

Chief operating officer with Wye Valley NHS Trust Neil Doverty said patients choosing not to go to A&E with minor ailments would be seen quicker as well as freeing up hospital staff to treat seriously ill people.

“We are putting into action plans that have been developed to ensure that patient safety is maintained,” he said.

“As part of these plans to manage high demand on services clinical teams have had to take the decision to postpone a small number of operations this week to ensure those who need urgent treatment are seen quickly.

“We’re reviewing this on a daily basis and will not take this decision lightly to postpone further options, and every effort will be made to reschedule treatment as soon as we can and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause for our patients.

“This is something that happens every time there is a surge in demand for NHS services, but particularly over the winter months when there can be an increase in people becoming sick.”