The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust says it has declared a major internal incident in A&E. It says it is the first time in almost four years it has happened.
In a statement the Chief Executive, Paula Clark, said:
'We do not have staffing issues at the hospital. We have been experiencing high levels of emergency admissions since the middle of December 2013 and the capacity issues have come to a head today.
As well as asking patients to only come to A&E if they are facing life threatening conditions, to help us manage the situation, we have asked West Midlands Ambulance Service to divert ambulances away from Russells Hall Hospital.
We have asked the local authority to help us discharge additional patients to nursing homes and care homes, more than they would ordinarily do.
We have cancelled outpatient clinics and postponed planned operating lists to get as many medical staff as possible to wards to manage the safe discharge of patients.
Emergency patients may have to wait many hours to be admitted to hospital. We are managing the situation from minute to minute and will keep patients informed.'
Patients are being asked to only visit A&E at Russells Hall Hospital unless they are facing a life threatening condition.
The hospital says that it is experiencing unprecedented pressure on its emergency services. It says unless patients have a genuine emergency they are asked to go to their walk in centre, GP or visit their local pharmacist.
“We are at level four capacity which means we have extreme pressure on our services, and so patients who come to our A&E department will have a very long wait,” said chief executive Paula Clark. “We would urge patients to think twice before using the emergency services at Russells Hall Hospital.”
Bernadette Garrihy, emergency medicine consultant, explains why she signed a letter with other senior West Midlands doctors, expressing concerns about patient safety in the region's A and E departments.
The pressures on A&E departments are "growing" leaving the service "closer to the cliff edge", the NHS Confederation chief executive has warned.
Mike Farrar said: "Like many hard-working frontline staff in the NHS, we have been ringing the alarm bells about urgent care services struggling to meet the demands of patients.
"The recent headlines do not lie – the pressures are growing and we are getting closer and closer to the cliff edge.
"In the last ten years, emergency admissions through A&E have increased by 51 per cent; that's an extra 1.25 million more patients going in to hospital on an unplanned basis.
"If we continue with this trend, we will see another extra half a million patients cramming into our A&E department in the next three years. This will be simply impossible for our hospital services to cope with, despite the heroic efforts of staff to date."