ALTHOUGH the amount of people visiting accident and emergency departments in Worcestershire has decreased over the past 12 years, more of them had to be admitted to hospital.

In the past 12 months 130,681 people visited one of the three A&E departments in the county, compared to 134,088 in the previous year, but a greater number of these were in need of emergency care than in the past.

Last December saw a massive surge in emergency admissions to hospital in the county, putting serious strain on health services.

Speaking at a meeting of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust's board on Wednesday, January 29, deputy chief executive Chris Tidman explained: "A&E attendances are down but these patients walking through the doors are sicker so we are admitting more of them".

Chief executive Penny Venables said an explanation for the figures could be the greater amount of older people in the county.

"If we look at this cohort of patients they are very frail and very elderly," she said.

"The ideal scenario is to get them home with a care plan as soon as possible. That's what we've got to get better at."

A spokesman from the trust said one of the greatest difficulties faced by healthcare workers in the county was to get people out of hospital as quickly as possible without jeopardising their health or treatment.

"It's a problem - the population is getting older and sicker," she said.

Figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed 51.2 per cent of people admitted to A&E in the county were men, with women accounting for 48.8 per cent, while people aged 20 to 29 made up the greatest proportion of admissions at 15.2 per cent.

On average patients spent two hours and 32 minutes waiting to be treated - slightly longer than the national average - with the greatest amount of admissions taking place between 8am and 7pm.