More than 8,500 patients seen in A&E in a month as Shropshire hospitals record worst waiting times
More than 8,500 patients were seen in Shropshire's A&E departments last month when the trust running the county's two main hospitals was ranked the worst in the country for its waiting times.
Around a third of patients at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital had to wait longer than the four-hour government target in January, according to figures from NHS England.
The A&E departments saw 8,580 patients – nearly 300 more than the previous month when 69.3 per cent of patients were seen within four hours.
The government says that 95 per cent of patients should be seen within four hours in A&E, but the target has not been met in Shropshire for some time.
Simon Wright, chief executive of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust , which runs PRH and RSH, said: "To be perfectly honest, I don't want to be in this position.
"None of us do, none of my staff in the A&Es want us to be where we are.
"It is for one month, I would stress that. If we look over the year we are not at the bottom.
"Our performance isn't great but it's in the bottom 30 and it's been there for a very long time.
"I think that talks for the need for the bigger structural changes, but we've got to get off the bottom of this pile and we will."
He has also thanked staff for their hard work despite facing spiralling pressures.
SaTH has struggled to recruit doctors for its A&E departments and, after a consultant recently resigned, now faces a decision about whether to bring in a temporary overnight closure of the emergency department at PRH.
Hospital bosses can activate a contingency plan which would see the emergency department at PRH close between the hours of 8pm to 8am for up to two weeks.
Night staff from PRH would be relocated to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
But bosses say they are doing all they can to avoid taking this measure.
The trust says it is looking at how to secure enough staff and has sought help from neighbouring health trusts.
Reassuring people at a meeting of the SaTH board earlier this week, new chairman Ben Reid said: "We are going to do absolutely everything in our powers to keep this open."
The consultant who has announced his resignation is expected to leave the trust shortly.