London

Barnet hospital A&E unit closed amid 'substance' fear

Barnet hospital Image copyright CJ CHURCHALL-MCKENZIE
Image caption The unit in Barnet Hospital, north London, was closed as a precaution for over an hour on Friday afternoon

An A&E department was closed after a patient who had come into contact with "an irritant substance" attended.

No patients were allowed to be seen by medical staff as the unit in Barnet Hospital, north London, was closed as a precaution for over an hour on Friday afternoon, one witness said.

It has since reopened, a spokesman said.

The patient, thought to be a woman, is not believed to have come into contact with the substance on hospital grounds.

Police were alerted at about 13:45 BST, and firefighters also attended the scene.

Officers advise lockdown

CJ Churchall-McKenzie, who was waiting to be seen for a broken foot, said no patients were allowed to be seen by medical staff after the "lockdown" was announced, for fear of contamination.

"A woman came up to the A&E counter and they sent her straight back outside," he said.

"Then they announced on the Tannoy: 'There has been a suspected chemical incident and police have advised to lockdown A&E'."

Mr Churchall-McKenzie, 42, from Barnet, said no one was allowed to leave or enter the unit, and that staff made patients cups of tea to keep them calm.

"It wasn't chaos or panic, but three people were winding themselves up and getting upset," he added.

He said that some patients seemed to deteriorate during the hour and that they were prioritised as soon as the unit reopened.

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