Huge pressure on A&E in Peterborough has continued into a second week with no signs of an immediate let-up.
The trust which runs the hospital has been on Critical Internal Incident status on five of the last nine days and now has the added complication of snow forecast from tomorrow.
The trust was last night on black alert, the second highest critical status, and is still trying to cope with what it has called an unprecedented demand for people needing emergency care.
Neil Doverty, chief operating officer at the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our staff across the trust have done a tremendous job in ensuring that patient care remains our priority whilst we have been on Critical Internal Incident.
“We managed to step down our capacity level yesterday but are continuing to see a high number of very poorly patients.”
The trust was on Critical Internal Incident status on Tuesday to Thursday last week and Monday and Tuesday this week.
During this period the average waiting times in the Emergency Department ranged from three hours 46 minutes on one day, to four hours five minutes on another, and over five hours on the other three days.
The number of patients to attend A&E during these periods varied from 229 to 276.
The reasons given for the severe pressure were the high numbers of people needing emergency care and delays in people leaving the hospital who are fit to do so.
Staff have been working paid overtime or have been moved across from other wards to help with the rising demand in A&E.
That is set to continue over the coming days as the hospital prepares for forecasted snow and hail.
Mr Doverty said: “Following the announcement of the Level 3 Cold Weather Warning by the Met Office we anticipate that patients may attend our Emergency Department with an increase in fractures, slips, falls and potentially hypothermia.
“We ask that the public follow the national guidance on this to help to prevent this where possible.
“We have implemented our Level 3 Cold Weather Action Plan to ensure that we can maintain a high standard of service across the trust for all of our patients.”
The plan includes gritting outside the hospital in Bretton.
Mr Doverty added: “We ask that unless it is an emergency the public continue to seek alternative treatment options, such as the Minor Illness and Injuries Unit on Thorpe Road, which is open from 8am to 8pm every day, or the Minor Injuries Unit at Stamford Hospital, which is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, or speak to the local GP or pharmacist for help and advice.”