PERFORMANCE: East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust has been forced to declare an internal major incident due to high emergency demand.

The move, announced last week, is normally taken when there are large scale incidents such as motorway accidents.

It means doctors have been instructed to cancel any training and non-medical work, and outpatients clinics are being cancelled and outpatient staff moved to work on inpatient hospital wards.

It also means operational managers have been told to be ready to provide additional support to medical and nursing teams to aid patient flow. An internal statement issued to staff also called on doctors to discharge as many patients as possible.

An internal statement from Peter Johnson, emergency planning and business continuity manager, said: “A decision has been made to call an internal major incident, as it has been considered that patient safety is being put at risk due to the amount of patients within our hospital.”

A trust statement said: “East Kent Hospitals has initiated the use of internal significant incident procedures to ensure the continuity of safe patient care in the face of an unprecedented number of very unwell people needing hospital care.

“This has been called because of the unprecedented number of exceptionally unwell people arriving at the hospital, particularly through A&E.”

Trust medical director Neil Martin said: “The trust has taken this action in order to ensure that patients continue to be looked after well and safely despite the exceptional demands on the service”.