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Labour: Draft in ex-nurses to ease NHS burden

Labour would draft in former nurses to help ease the burden on accident and emergency departments, Ed Miliband has said.

GPs could also be installed in hospitals to cool pressure on the straining service, the Labour leader added.

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What is a 'major incident' and what does it mean for patients?

Several hospitals across England have declared 'major incidents' this week, but what does that mean and what cases them?

As more hospitals close what is a 'major incident'? Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

A major incident is usually declared after a big industrial or traffic accident or emergency, or a severe regional flu outbreak and usually happens in the winter when hospitals are already under strain.

Declaring a major incident allows hospital bosses to to call in extra staff and get staff to work more overtime.

However the main impact for patients is that a major incident allows a hospital to close its doors to all but the most acute cases.

In some extreme situations a hospital can close its A&E department completely - effectively closing the hospital, but this is rare.

More usually routine scheduled operations will be cancelled to free up beds and staff to deal with the influx of patients.

Different Hospital Trusts will have different criteria for declaring a major incident and may have different plans to deal with a surge in demand.

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