'Major internal incident': Croydon University Hospital (Picture: Google Street View)
Croydon today became the first London hospital to declare a “major internal incident” as a result of pressure on its A&E.
The hospital, which handles more than 1,500 emergency patients each week, said it had taken the measures to ensure the safety of those already receiving care in its department.
However it said it had not been forced to cancel any operations.
In the last week of December it treated 85 per cent of patients attending its main A&E within four hours - 10 points below the NHS target.
By declaring a major incident, hospital bosses are able to bring in extra staff - allowing them to open extra beds to cope with the demand.
Ambulances are likely to be diverted to other hospitals, such as St George’s in Tooting and St Helier. Patients with non-emergency conditions will be asked to seek help from their GP or at a pharmacy.
Croydon North MP Steve Reed said: "Today’s news confirms exactly what local people have been telling me for weeks. Under David Cameron, Croydon’s NHS is facing a crisis. Croydon University Hospital is one of London’s busiest A&E, but they’re now so overwhelmed by surging demand they can’t admit any more patients.
"Only this morning a local woman in her 80s called my office to say that she had waited 12 hours on a trolley bed in a hospital corridor on Saturday night because the A&E was too busy to treat her. The Government has created an A&E crisis across Britain and, tragically, it’s now hit our local hospital.
"Similar incidents across the country today show the NHS won’t survive another five years of this Government.”
London North West Healthcare Trust was yesterday on “black” alert, with acute pressure on Northwick Park hospital. In the week ending December 21, it had the worst delays at its main A&Es - treating 53.7 per cent of the most seriously ill patients within the target.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s in Romford and King George in Ilford, has been operating at a “significant internal event” level since December 28 — one level short of a major incident.
A spokesman for Croydon Health Services NHS Trust said: "Like a number of NHS hospitals, we are currently seeing a very high number of people in our A&E department, many of who require admission into hospital.
"To increase our capacity we have put in place a series of actions to help meet this increased demand. We plan for a busy winter every year and we have taken this step to make sure we can continue to care for people quickly and safely.
“At no point have we turned away blue-light ambulances.”
“We are bringing our doctors and nurses together in the right places to care for patients and open up more hospital beds. We would urge everyone to only come to A&E or call 999 if you have a genuine emergency."
Published: 06 January 2015
Updated: 14:53, 06 January 2015