PERFORMANCE: A hospital A&E department has reopened this morning after a serious fire over the weekend.

But people living in and around Chesterfield, Derbyshire, have been warned the emergency unit at Chesterfield Royal Hospital will only be operating a limited service following the blaze which broke out in a newsagent’s stall.

Patients were evacuated from part of the building in Calow, Chesterfield, to hospitals in Sheffield, Rotherham, Mansfield and Derby, as the flames took hold on Saturday night.

A hospital spokesman said these people will be returned to the Royal as soon as possible, as long as they are clinically safe to travel.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service battled to contain the blaze which broke out in the shop at the hospital’s main entrance and spread to the first floor before breaking through the roof.

More than 50 firefighters and 10 appliances were called to the scene as crews used an aerial platform, water jets and thermal imaging cameras to tackle the flames.

The first call came at 9.20pm after an automatic alarm went off and the fire service put the fire out by about 1am.

Firefighters handed the scene over to the hospital at around 10.30am on Sunday but some crews are still on site assisting with risk assessments.

An investigation into the fire has been completed and it concluded an electrical appliance fault was the cause.

The hospital said the fire caused considerable damage to the main entrance, parts of the A&E reception area and the orthopaedic and fracture clinics.

From tomorrow, people attending for orthopaedic and fracture clinic out-patient appointments will be seen on Staveley Ward and the reception for some other services will move to the Scarsdale Wing entrance.

With the A&E department operating only limited services, the hospital has asked local people to consider other available options, for minor injuries in particular.

Head of communications Sarah Turner-Saint said: “In an emergency or life-threatening situation the course of action is always to dial 999.

“But there are other options for minor problems. Walk-in centres, out of hours GP services and pharmacy advice, etc may be an alternative for some and would help us to establish services over the coming 48 hours.”

Hospital chief executive Eric Morton said: “We are facing long-term disruption, particularly in the main entrance, where thousands of patients book in for their appointments each day.

“We will be operating temporary facilities and will ensure patients know where to go when they arrive. Although we will try to ensure services run as smoothly as possible we realise there will be some inconvenience.

“Our main aim however, is to keep services up and running for local people and we ask for everyone’s understanding during this unprecedented incident.”

Mr Morton said there were no plans to cancel appointments or operations.

Earlier, the chief executive paid tribute to staff and the emergency services who “worked incredibly hard to ensure hospital services have been minimally affected”.

He added: “There is extensive damage to some areas but we will work as quickly as we can to repair this.

“We hope to have services back up to full strength within the next couple of days - albeit with some longer term reconstruction.”