Appointments cancelled as another critical incident declared at Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals
A critical incident has been declared at Shropshire's major hospitals for the fourth time this year.
Some appointments are being cancelled at the hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford as a result, with bosses saying that intense pressure means they have to prioritise services.
In a statement, Shrewsbury & Telford Hospitals NHS Trust (SaTH) said that a "very limited" number of services deemed non-urgent were being paused and urged people to turn up to their appointments unless told otherwise.
It is the third time that a critical incident has been declared at Princess Royal Hospital and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in just over a month and the fourth time so far this year.
The trust blamed "exceptionally high levels" of demand, the impact of Covid-19 and bed-blocking due to not being able to discharge medically fit patients.
A spokesman said: "Despite us taking every available option to free up capacity and create additional space, we need to ensure we can continue to prioritise our services and so we have declared a new critical incident. This means that we are pausing a very limited number of non-urgent services to allow us to meet the most urgent needs of those we care for.
"Urgent services, including cancer, and time-critical procedures will continue, and we will contact patients directly who may be affected by delays to non-urgent treatment or postponed appointments.
"If you have an appointment in our hospitals but have not been contacted, please continue to attend your appointment as before. Any postponed procedures or appointments will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
"We are very sorry for those impacted by this and we would like to assure you that, despite the challenges faced and some changes to non-urgent appointments, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them so if you require urgent medical help, please continue to come forward."
The hospital trust urged people to only attend its A&E departments for serious accidents and emergencies and to visit NHS 111 online for advice about where to seek the most appropriate care.
The lack of available capacity in hospitals has in turn led to major pressure on the region's ambulance service, with many paramedics left off the road as they wait to hand over patients at hospitals. There have been unprecedented delays for people waiting for help after calling 999 as a result.