A hospital trust in the South West has declared a critical incident as it faces increasing pressure from Omicron.
Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Swindon has said it is "extremely busy" as 67 patients are treated for Covid and many members of staff isolate.
The trust's partners have been alerted to the pressures Great Western Hospital (GWH) is under and the critical incident means it will receive support with discharging patients home as quickly as possible to free up bed capacity for those who need it.
In a statement, the trust said: 'We currently have 67 patients being treated for Covid-19, of which five are in ICU (intensive care unit).
"There are also lots of patients coming through our urgent and emergency care services, which means our hospital is extremely busy.
"These pressures are made more challenging as we have many staff off sick with Covid-19 or isolating, or with other conditions.
"We are working with partners to get patients home as soon as they are well enough, and would ask local families to support us by collecting your loved ones promptly and making sure their home is ready for their return.”
The news comes as visitor restrictions have been introduced at GWH and Bath’s Royal United hospitals. Routine visits have been suspended, although the rules do not apply to maternity and children’s wards and to patients having end-of-life care.
In declaring a critical incident, GWH joins several hospital trusts across the country which have made the same move in the past week.
The first was confirmed by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust - which runs six hospitals in its area - with an internal letter warning it is "unable to maintain safe staffing levels", leading to "compromised care".