DOZENS of A&E patients have waited up to an hour before entering Hereford County Hospital after arriving in ambulances, new figures reveal.

NHS England figures show 418 patients arrived at A&E in Hereford by ambulance between December 28 and January 3 – 50 had to wait between 30 and 60 minutes, and 11 had to wait even longer.

National guidance says patients arriving at an emergency department by ambulance must be handed over to the care of A&E staff within 15 minutes.

The busiest day was December 31, when 12 were waiting at least half an hour and six more than 60 minutes.

The week before, 413 patients arrived at A&E in an ambulance. Forty had to wait between 30 and 60 minutes, and four even longer.

A delay does not necessarily mean the patient waited in the ambulance itself – but staff were not available to complete the handover.

An NHS spokesman said earlier this month: "NHS staff are now caring for record numbers of seriously ill Covid patients requiring hospital treatment.

"But they are doing so while also caring for substantially more emergency patients with other conditions than were in hospital during the first Covid peak in April.

"The pandemic has required changes to the way the NHS delivers care, with hospitals having to split services into separate Covid and non-Covid zones, so to protect individual patients some beds and ward bays have to be taken out of use."