Ambulances left queuing outside Cornwall hospital as health services placed on high alert

One visitor claimed that there were 21 ambulances queued outside the hospital because of a backlog of patients needing care
One visitor claimed there were 21 ambulances left queuing outside the hospital because of a backlog of patients needing care. Credit: BPM Media/CornwallLive

More than 20 ambulances were reportedly left queuing outside a hospital in Cornwall as health services in the region continue to operate under immense pressure.

Pictures showed a number of emergency service vehicles waiting outside the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro on May 10.

One woman, who accompanied a vulnerable patient to the hospital's A&E department, described the queues as "chaotic".

It comes as bosses escalated health services in the county to OPEL 4, the highest state of alert.

A row of ambulances queuing outside of the Royal Cornwall Hospital's emergency department earlier this year.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "I am truly shocked at how chaotic it was and can well imagine that patient care is being affected.

"It is a disgrace that people are being made to queue outside and no provision is being made for this.

"There were people who were not very well waiting outside the building. People were told to leave who weren’t patients, but I refused as I was with someone who was vulnerable.

"There were people there waiting nine hours for a bed."

A spokesperson for the Royal Cornwall Hospital said they were aware of the concerns.

Paul Cook, who is the Clinical Commissioning Group chairman at NHS Kernow, said it is important residents and tourists only use health services they need.

"All of our health and care services are busy, and we need everyone to do their bit to support our teams to care safely for everyone by contacting their GP or 111 first," he explained.

The Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Health and Care Partnership are operating under the highest level of pressure, known as OPEL 4 Credit: BPM Media/CornwallLive

"Residents and holidaymakers can really help to ease the pressure by making sure they use the right services, and by supporting family or friends so they can stay in their own homes, where appropriate.

"We’re asking people not to call 999 or turn up to the emergency department unless they have a serious or life-threatening condition.

"The first point of call should always be your own GP, even if you are here on holiday, and when they are closed, or you simply don’t know what type of care you need, just go online at or dial 111."

What is Opel 4?

Operations Pressure Escalation Levels (Opel) is a method used by the NHS to measure the stress, demand and pressure a hospital is under.

Opel 4 represents the high escalation level.

It is declared when a hospital is “unable to deliver comprehensive care” and patient safety is at risk.

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