• Consultants reviewing patients again to try to clear beds
  • All surgery cancelled apart from cancer cases
  • Focus on “discharging patients safely to free up capacity”

A major north London hospital has declared an internal incident as it struggles to cope with an unprecedented demand for beds.

An internal incident was ongoing at the Royal Free Hospital in north London as of around noon, according to an internal email seen by HSJ.

It said consultants needed to “ensure all patients were reviewed again so that nobody is in a hospital bed who does not need to be”.

All surgery has been cancelled, apart from cancer cases which continue as normal. All non-urgent meetings and training sessions have also been cancelled because “the focus is on discharging patients safely to free up capacity”.

“Support services including pharmacy, therapies, transport and radiology have been stood up to manage the potential increase in discharges during the day,” the email added.

Hospitals declaring internal incidents are fairly common during activity surges in winter, and this is the first major example to come to light for 2018-19.

The Royal Free Hospital, part of the Royal Free London Foundation Trust, has one of the busiest emergency departments in the capital. It has missed the national target for processing 95 per cent of emergency attendances in less than four hours for the past two years. It last hit the target on a quarterly basis in the first quarter of 2016-17.

HSJ has approached the trust for comment.