Ambulances have been forced to queue up outside a Norwich hospital built under the Government’s private finance initiative (PFI) as wards filled to bursting point.
And managers at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital had to implement plans designed to enable staff to cope with major incidents such as terrorist attacks and train crashes in order to cope with demand.
A hospital spokeswoman said many patients had been sent home and doctors and nurses were asked to work overtime.
At one stage 10 ambulances were waiting to discharge patients at the hospital – which has nearly 1,000 beds, the spokeswoman added.
“The hospital is currently full and our emergency areas are at full capacity,” she said.
“As a result of the extreme pressure we are under we have declared a major incident in order that all the agencies can take appropriate action to discharge patients and free up beds.”
Managers urged people with “minor health” problems not to attend the accident and emergency department.
The spokeswoman said such a situation had not arisen at the hospital before.
And she said that other hospitals in East Anglia had been put on “black alert” because of the numbers of patients seeking emergency treatment.
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