A HOSPITAL had to declare a critical incident after it became exceptionally busy which meant patients faced long waits and delays for treatment.

One witness described 14 ambulances queuing up outside Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester on Sunday as bosses were forced to declare 'an internal critical incident'.

With pressure mounting on beds and patients facing long waits, the trust said it was forced to act because of patient safety. 

A spokesperson for the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: "Our priority is always going to be the safety of our patients.

"Both our emergency departments have been very busy and over the weekend they were exceptionally busy. We declared an internal critical incident on Sunday afternoon because of concerns about long patient waits in our Emergency Departments, delays in ambulance handovers and pressure on beds across our hospital sites.

"We called in extra staff and thanks to the efforts of teams across our Trust, and the support of colleagues in other local health and care organisations, we were able to ease the pressure on our sites and we stood the critical incident down this morning (Monday).

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"We would like to thank all our staff and partners for their support and apologise to any patients who faced long waits for treatment. As always we would ask local people to help us help them by only using our emergency departments for the most serious illness and injuries and to consider alternatives to ED including minor injury units and their GP, when safe to do so."

We reported last month how Worcestershire Royal Hospital's new £35 million A&E opened and was welcoming its first patients through the doors.

The aim of NHS bosses is for the new emergency department to address pressures which have led to patients waiting in corridors or in ambulances before they can be admitted, meaning increased waiting times.

A spokesperson for the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said last month: "We can confirm that we’re seeing patients in the new emergency department at Worcestershire Royal Hospital now.

"We’re keen to emphasise though that the public should continue to contact NHS 111, either online or by calling 111, to receive free urgent care advice before attending our Emergency Department, and to only use 999 in a life-threatening emergency."

Advice and guidance is always available online from NHS 111 at 111.nhs.uk.