THE NHS has applied for an £8million loan to increase bed numbers at the city's hospital, in preparation for next winter.

Health bosses also started work on a new bridge, connecting two sections of Worcestershire Royal Hospital, last week.

The hospital has suffered from bed shortages in recent years, with an episode of the BBC's Ambulance programme, broadcast on Thursday, highlighting pressures this winter.

During the show, one paramedic claimed that 16 ambulances were stuck waiting outside the hospital.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said it plans to boost the number of beds at the hospital by refurbishing ward areas in the Aconbury East building.

A spokesman added: "This work, agreed as part of the countywide Acute Services Review, is funded by a £29.6million Department of Health capital grant.

"£3million of this has already been granted as public dividend capital to allow the construction of a link bridge between the main Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Aconbury East, and work on this began last week."

Staff will be able to move patients between the buildings quicker by using the bridge.

The spokesman added: "NHS England has sought to accelerate an application for a further loan of £8million - from the original approved £29.6million - to enable work to begin on new Aconbury wards at the earliest opportunity.”

Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospitals Trust will have to put together a business case before it can access the rest of the government grant, but this will take some time.

Healthwatch Worcestershire chief Peter Pinfield wrote to the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, to request urgent cash.

He received a reply explaining that health bosses had applied for an £8million loan to pay for an extra 81 beds at Worcestershire Royal Hospital this winter.

A number of measures were implemented to ease pressures this year, including new and expanded units at Worcester's hospital.