Trust which runs Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital declares critical incident

ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee reports from Portsmouth

The trust which runs the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth has declared a critical incident.

Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust says demand for emergency services is 'outstripping capacity' and has made the declaration in a bid to better protect patients.

Posting on social media the trust said: "We have declared a critical incident this morning to prioritise all capacity for emergency response only to protect patient safety."Demand for an emergency response is far outstripping the capacity available in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire at this time.

"Our capacity will only be used for life threatening conditions or injuries and our Emergency Department (ED) is operating a strict redirection to alternative services where necessary.

"We are working closely with our partners across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight who are also taking all critical incident actions to provide capacity in all services"Thank you for all your support during this difficult and busy time."

The hospital is just one of many across the country which is facing unprecedented demand.

Mask-wearing and visitor restrictions have been re-introduced at Southampton General Hospital.

A sharp rise in Covid infections, and concerns about seasonal flu have prompted the hospital to issue warnings about long waiting times at A and E.

Managers say the precautions are necessary to protect staff and patients.

Meanwhile the concerns over high demand on emergency services come as ambulance workers across the south coast are to be balloted for strike action.

The GMB Union has confirmed its members who work for South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB), South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST), are angry over a 4% pay rise which they say represents a real-terms pay cut.

Ballot dates for will be announced in the coming days.