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Old wards reopened amid A&E demand

Unprecedented demand on A&E admissions is forcing health bosses to reopen old wards after running out of beds at a new £545 million hospital.

The number of patients being admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham means two wards will be brought back into action at the neighbouring old Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which was built in the 1930s and closed in 2010.

Elective surgery for routine operations has had to be cancelled because of the capacity problems.

Birmingham's biggest hospital opened on June 10 with 1,213 beds, replacing two outdated buildings including the old Queen Elizabeth.

Dame Julie Moore, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust which runs the hospital, said it needed to reopen the mothballed wards "to meet the unprecedented demand on services across the region and, in particular, on the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital".

She said the Midlands region had seen a 10% increase in admissions to accident and emergency departments.

Dame Julie said the trust was "proactively responding to a steep rise in the number of GP referrals, self-presenting patients and emergency admissions".

The move comes despite the fact the trust has already laid on 117 additional beds over the winter period.

Dame Julie, speaking on BBC Radio West Midlands, said: "We've seen the biggest number of patients coming in since we've been keeping records. We've got an ageing population, people with chronic disease, people are living longer and we've had the winter period. What we're not doing is looking after patients in corridors, but this way they're in a proper ward environment."

She said the refitted wards would meet "the highest" infection-control standards.

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