RESIDENTS are being asked to us health services "wisely" after ambulances have been forced to wait to hand over patients to A&E.

More than half a dozen ambulances were spotted queuing to hand over patients to A&E at the Worcestershire Royal hospital for the second time this week.

The emergency department at the crisis-hit hospital is under extreme pressure due to high patients numbers.

A total of seven West Midlands Ambulance Service vehicles were seen queuing on Monday and a further eight were spotted on Tuesday.

Paramedics are supposed to hand over patients to doctors at the emergency department within 15 minutes of arrival.

A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Worcestershire Royal as well as Redditch's Alexandra Hospital, said: “In common with health services locally and nationally, our services continue to face very high levels of demand driven, in part, by the recent spell of severe weather.

“Staff in our Emergency Departments (EDs), and their colleagues in wards and departments across our trust are working hard to care for large numbers of very seriously-ill patients and we would like to thank them for the dedication and commitment they continued to show during the recent snow to keep our services running."

They said the trust is continuing to work with partners in other local NHS organisations and the council to make sure all the health and care facilities in the county are being used to best effect.

They added: “We would appeal to local people to play their part by following advice on using health services wisely."

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "In recent days the trust has experienced an incredibly high level of demand, with Monday being the busiest day ever in the trust’s history when more than 5,000 999 calls were received. Unfortunately, at times of peak demand, delays do occur at some hospitals.

"West Midlands Ambulance Service continues to work closely with all hospitals in the region to tackle such issues and operates a number of measures to help ensures ambulances are able to offload patients as quickly as possible.

“We would urge everyone to only call 999 for life-threatening injuries or illnesses in order to ensure we are free to deal with those patients who really need our help.”