HEREFORD County Hospital is one of the worst in England when it comes to A&E waiting times, new figures have revealed.

More than a quarter of patients – well over 1,500 – had to wait more than four hours for treatment, admission or discharge last month.

The figures are much worse than September – and the clear worry is that the really pressured winter months have not yet arrived.

It had been hoped that the building of new acute medical wards would help bring down waiting times, but the Trust say there has been an unprecedented growth in demand, particularly from very ill patients.

Last month, the number of ambulances arriving during any month broke the 2,000 mark. An average 67 of ambulances a day arrived at A&E.

Hospitals are expected to treat or discharge 95% of patients who attend A&E within four hours.

Wye Valley NHS Trust, which runs the County Hospital, hit just 72.1% in October. There are only four other acute trusts out of the150 or so across England which have worse figures. One of them is in neighbouring Shrewsbury and Telford, which had a mere 70.5% success rate.

These figures compare with an average across all English hospitals of 83.6% - itself a record low.

Nationally, the 95% target has not been met for more than four years.

At Hereford a total of 5,928 people attended A&E in October – which amounts to the equivalent of more than 190 patients a day, or 8 every hour.

While 4,272 were dealt with within the four hour target, a total of 1,656 had to wait longer. That’s the equivalent of more than fifty every day.

The figures are an indication of the rising demand that all hospitals are facing, largely because of an ageing population.

A Trust spokesman said: ""Overall attendances at A&E have risen by 8.4 per cent this year compared to April-September 2018."

"Between March and October, ambulance conveyances have grown by 174 per month. This far exceeded expectations.

"The number of seriously ill patients needing the most urgent care in A&E rose by more than 400 per month between March and October, clearly demonstrating that a greater proportion of the case mix of patients coming into A&E have serious concerns needing urgent treatment.

Hospitals are also hampered by staffing shortages and years of tight budgets in health and social care.

For these reasons health experts say these figures will almost certainly get worse.

A recent survey by Healthwatch Herefordshire found one in five patients complaining of five hour waits before being sent to an outpatient clinic for treatment.