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Wildlife experts herd pod of whales into deeper water

A pod of pilot whales spotted off the Essex coast are being herded out to open water in an effort to stop them becoming beached.

Wildlife experts, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Essex Police's marine unit are trying to coax the 40-strong group further out to sea so they avoid becoming stranded on mud flats near the shore.

The whales were spotted sheltering near the Blackwater Estuary, a shallow stretch of water dotted with several shoals and mud flats that could prove deadly to the whales if they become trapped at low tide.

Colchester A&E restrictions will last for about a week

Colchester hospital has warned people to stay away from its accident and emergency department, unless they have a serious or life-threatening condition - restrictions which are expected to last for at least a week.

The announcement follows a surprise inspection by health regulators as ITV news reporter Harry Smith reports:

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Labour: English hospitals 'overwhelmed by pressure'

Labour MP Jamie Reed said English A&E departments are in crisis. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

Hospitals in England are facing chaos in A&E departments and being "overwhelmed by pressure", a shadow health minister has claimed.

After Colchester Hospital reported a "major incident" following concerns raised by a surprise inspection, Labour's Jamie Reed said people "deserve to know how ministers will turn this situation around".

"The Government must make a statement on whether the hospital is safe, has enough staff and if it is providing acceptable care," he added.

Minsters have ignored repeated warnings about the chaos in A&E across England and now whole hospitals are being overwhelmed by the pressure.

By making it harder to get a GP appointment, pushing elderly care services to the brink of collapse and wasting £3 billion on a top-down reorganisation, this Government has caused a crisis in A&E.

– Jamie Reed, shadow health minister

NHS Trust investigating concerns over Colchester Hospital

The NHS Trust running Colchester Hospital says it is investigating whether staff followed policies appropriately after declaring a "major incident" following an inspection.

Dr Lucy Moore, Chief Executive of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Care Quality Commission raised a small number of safeguarding concerns when its team gave immediate feedback at the end of the inspection on Wednesday.

“The Trust takes safeguarding extremely seriously and is now investigating to find out whether our policies had been followed appropriately.”

Watchdog to continue monitoring Colchester Hospital

A sign outside Colchester Hospital. Credit: Charlotte Grant/ITV News

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says it will continue to monitor Colchester Hospital after raising concerns over its Accident and Emergency Assessment Unite (EAU).

Professor Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the CQC, said: Following the inspection, we gave feedback to the trust about our safeguarding concerns so that it could take appropriate action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its patients.

"We will return to carry out further inspections at the trust and we are working urgently with Monitor to resolve these issues," he added.

The CQC will publish a full report of its findings "in due course".

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Colchester Hospital declares 'major incident'

Colchester Hospital Credit: PA Wire

Colchester Hospital has declared a "major incident" over concerns raised by a surprise inspection last week.

The hospital has called on members of the public only to visit the hospital's accident and emergency department if they have a "serious or life-threatening condition".

It comes after an inspection by The Care Quality Commission on Wednesday raised "safeguarding concerns".

Peter Wilson, acting chairman of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, told the Guardian newspaper it was facing "unprecedented demand" on its services.

He confirmed it had declared a major incident, expected to last a week, to review various aspects of service at the hospital.

'Bag of rubbish' causes Southend Airport evacuation

Cordons have been lifted at Southend Airport after police said the suspicious package turned out to be a bag of "rubbish".

Essex Police tweeted:

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