A&E waiting figures at hospitals serving the Ludlow and Tenbury areas in December were the worst for five years.

The required target for A&E departments is to admit, transfer or discharge at least 95% of patients within four hours of arrival.

But NHS statistics show that patients at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust waited longer on 4,912 occasions in December – 39.5% of all attendances.

At Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust patients waited longer on 4,862 occasions in December – 29.9% of all attendances.

At Hereford hospital the figure was 1,822– 32.7% of all attendances.

The vast majority of NHS A&E departments across England fell short of the 95% target in December, but local hospitals in the area are performing well below the current low average.

Nationally, just 79.8% of patients were seen within four hours – the worst performance for any month since records began in 2010.

Medical professionals warn that services are at breaking point nationally after December saw a record low proportion of patients seen in time – and they fear it will get worse before it gets better.

A&E departments dealt with 2.2 million visits in December – a 6.5% rise on the same month the previous year.

And during 2019, the national service saw 1.2 million more A&E attendances than in 2018.

Sara Biffen, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), said: “Our doctors, nurses and other staff are working hard to provide the best possible care while we still see very high demand on our services. We are sorry that this means some patients waiting longer than they should in our A&Es or a place on a ward.

“To ensure patients are seen and treated as quickly as possible, additional cubicles have been opened and additional bed space has been created on a number of wards.

“In the longer term, the trust will have a 25-bed therapy-led ward/discharge lounge open at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and a 16-bed ward at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford in the coming weeks.

“The public can help NHS staff by getting their flu jab if they’re eligible, talking to a pharmacist for expert advice about winter bugs before they get worse, or using the NHS 111 phone or online service if they need medical help fast but aren’t sure what to do.”