Sheffield hospital trust helped by Red Cross
Two Red Cross ambulances have been called in to help tackle the demand on emergency services at an NHS trust.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it was the first time the Red Cross had transported patients in the city.
The trust runs five hospitals including the Northern General, home of Sheffield's A&E department.
Dr David Throssell, of the trust, said the Red Cross role was "solely to transport patients who are going home".
The hospital has not declared a 'major incident'.
Dr Throssell, the trust's medical director, said the Northern General had a large catchment area and taking patients home in ambulances could take some time, and using the Red Cross on an ad-hoc basis had helped release other ambulance crews. He said so far five patients had been taken home this way.
He said admissions to A&E were 10% higher in December than the same month in 2013.
Dr Throssell said although the numbers attending A&E were up, the real difference was the proportion of patients that were "unwell and needing admission".
Emergency admissions for chest conditions had doubled in December, compared to the same month in 2013, he said.
He said the trust "acutely realised how serious" the situation was.