More than 20 NHS hospitals on ‘black alert’ amid reports of patients left in ambulances

Overcrowding in NHS hospitals has become so severe that last week more than 20 trusts issued ‘black alerts’, meaning they are unable to guarantee life-saving emergency care.

The top-level alert, considered a “serious incident” by NHS England, can result in scheduled operations being cancelled and patients being diverted to other hospitals as overflowing A&E departments struggle to cope.

 At least 23 hospital trusts in England declared they were unable to manage demand last week, reported The Guardian.

In Leicester, patients were made to wait in ambulances until A&E staff were able to see them, according to the newspaper.

And bed shortages at Royal Surrey hospital in Guildford at one point are said to have left 27 patients in need of a bed with nowhere to go.

Around a third of NHS trusts said they were facing intense pressures in December, according to the Nuffield Trust, which found 50 hospitals had declared alerts at the two highest escalation levels on an official scale last month.

Most of the 23 trusts The Guardian spoke to said they had reached the most severe of the four levels, with some describing the pressures they were facing in terms of a “serious internal incident”.

Full story in The Independent 12 January 2017