Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust declares 'black alert'

Royal Cornwall Hospital Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Patients are being asked to use the A&E department only if it is urgent.

An NHS hospital trust in Cornwall has declared a "black alert" due to pressure on its services.

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust said it was "extremely busy, with difficulties admitting and discharging patients".

The trust covers St Michael's in Hayle, West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance and The Royal Cornwall in Treliske.

A spokesman said: "Some patients having to stay on trolleys for up to 8 hours. Some staff leave has been cancelled."

Patients are being asked to use the A&E department only if it is urgent.

Alternative support and services are available by calling NHS 111, hospital chiefs said.

Bed shortage

A black alert is the highest level of alert and the trust expect it to last between 12 and 24 hours. The alert applies to the whole health and social care system in Cornwall.

The trust spokesman said hospitals were still seeing patients quickly in accident and emergency but there were no beds for them to go to.

He said: "We need to have better routes out of the hospital so patients can get to their own homes.

"We've really got to think about choices we make about healthcare. We've stepped up efforts and working very closely with partners but we need to simplify systems between health and social care."

At one point there were 70 patients in beds who could be sent elsewhere, this has now been reduced to 35.

St Ives MP Liberal Democrat Andrew George said: "The further west you go the more precarious the situation. There is no other A&E service that those in the far west can go to.

"When emergency services like this are closed, blue light ambulances cannot take patients to the north, west or south, there is only a very long and potentially life-threatening journey to the east if the front doors at Treliske are shut."

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