WAITING times and mortality rates are improving at Hereford County Hospital, despite growing pressures.

That’s the message from hospital bosses in light of the latest national waiting times figures which showed the hospital well off target.

The NHS Wye Valley Trust which runs the hospital says the picture is changing and improving because of work carried out in the last year.

Latest A&E figures are showing significant improvements, thanks to a new Acute Medical Unit opened just before Christmas which is speeding the treatment of patients.

According to Trust figures, in March this year the hospital achieved 85% of patients at A&E being seen within four hours – up 10% on the same month the previous year.

That is against a backdrop of a 9% increase in the number of patients attending A&E during 2018/19. Altogether they saw 60,560 patients, a rise of nearly 5,000 over the previous year. Outpatient numbers grew 8% to just short of 18,000.

Increasing demand from an ageing population is one of the big issues facing all NHS Trusts across the UK.

The hospital also had just four patients waiting more than 52 weeks for an operation in August. Last year the figure was 137.

And death rates in the hospital have fallen significantly as well. In fact, it’s success has made it the most improved Trust in the country for mortality.

Historically it has had a high mortality rate. Last year it came out at 119 on the scale when its target was 100. This March, the latest available figures, it was just 92.42.

It means the quality and safety of care is such that it is keeping more people alive than it would be expected, taking all factors into account.

This summer it was announced that £23.6 million had been earmarked to replace two 1940s hutted wards. Four huts used as wards and offices have already been demolished and the Trust expects to open the doors to the new wards by Christmas next year.