A Staffordshire hospital has declared a ‘major incident’ following a rise in the number of critical coronavirus patients on Friday night.
The arrangement is due to remain in place until Tuesday.
There are currently 322 coronavirus patients in beds across the Royal Stoke Hospital and Stafford’s County Hospital.
Tracy Bullock, chief executive of the University Hospitals of the North Midlands, apologised to patients and families caught up in the chaos, saying the two hospitals have been experiencing intense pressure, and particularly within the critical care service at Royal Stoke.
“We have put in place a range of measures to ensure NHS resources are directed where they are needed during the Covid-19 pandemic and to make sure that both hospitals, staff and patients remain safe, and care is prioritised to protect staff, patients and our services,” Stoke on Trent Live reported that she said.
“The decision to transfer patients out of our hospital is not something we take lightly and we would like to apologise to our patients and families who are affected by this.”
Ms Bullock said that she hoped that the crisis would be resolved quickly since the infection rate appeared to be dropping in the community.
“We would encourage all our communities to keep up the good progress we have made to reduce the infection rate and remember hands, face, space,” she said.
The arrangement comes as Royal Stoke staff are facing “unprecedented pressures”.
“We’ve never experienced anything like this before and what it creates is a huge amount of pressure on everybody in the organisation to try to do what's best for patients,” said the hospital’s Royal College of Nursing leader Rob Irving.
“And sometimes when you're under this kind of pressure those decisions aren't easy and won't please everybody.”
He said called the decisions that led to moving patients out of the trust’s intensive care units “last resort decisions”, adding that they wouldn’t have been taken “unless absolutely necessary“.
Another 374 new coronavirus cases were reported in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire yesterday, including 123 in the city alone.