'Critical incident' declared at Royal Cornwall Hospital

ambulances queuing
Image caption Fifteen ambulances were queued up outside Royal Cornwall Hospital on Monday

A "critical incident" has been declared at a hospital which is struggling to cope with "extreme pressure" on its services.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital has asked staff to work extra hours in the coming days to make the situation safe, according to a senior doctor.

The hospital has urged people to avoid visiting its emergency department as a result of the high demand.

On Monday 15 ambulances were queued up outside the hospital near Truro.

Andy Virr, emergency department consultant, who was on duty, described the situation as "very worrying".

"I certainly saw one patient that had spent nearly four hours in the ambulance in the ambulance bay and that's a terrible situation," he said.

Image copyright Huw Evans picture agency
Image caption People have been urged to use other services such as minor injuries departments or to call 111

Dr Virr said staff had made every effort to ensure treatment started "in a timely way".

"We don't want to see patients in corridors, which is why we have done what we have done today," he added.

In a statement, the hospital said emergency teams were working to keep patients safe and ensure treatment gets under way while waiting to be admitted to wards.

Health bosses have urged people to use minor injuries departments or call NHS 111 before visiting the hospital.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust has requested help from Cornwall Council and Cornwall Partnership Trust.

Critical incident status allows the organisations' leaders permission to clear their diaries and work together to try to resolve the situation.

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