A ‘major internal incident’ which was declared at Croydon University Hospital today due to the overstretched A&E department has been ‘stepped down’.

At 7am it put in measures to meet the increased demand in accident and emergency, including having more consultants to get patients the right care as quickly as possible and opening up more hospital beds.

But by mid-afternoon the hospital had stepped down its major incident status.

A spokesman for Croydon Health Services NHS Trust said at no point did the hospital have to turn away blue light ambulances.

He added: “Like a number of NHS hospitals, we are currently seeing a very high number of people in our A&E department, many of who require admission into hospital. 

“To increase our capacity we have put in place a series of actions to help meet this increased demand. 

“We plan for a busy winter every year and we have taken this step to make sure we can continue to care for people quickly and safely.

“We have many more staff at Croydon University Hospital than we had two years – including 100 extra nurses – but our staff are stretched. 

“We are bringing our doctors and nurses together in the right places to care for patients and open up more hospital beds. 

“This includes having additional consultants to triage patients in A&E to get people the right care in the shortest time possible. 

“We are also working very closely with health services across Croydon to ensure there is ongoing care and support available for our patients in the community or at home where appropriate.

“We would urge everyone to only come to A&E or call 999 if you have a genuine emergency. 

“This will help us to care for people with the most urgent health needs first. 

“If you are feeling unwell please always call NHS 111 or contact your local GP for advice. 

“Further support is also available via NHS Choices or at your local walk-in centre and pharmacist.”

Other hospital trusts to have been forced to activate major incident plans to cope with a surge in demand at emergency departments are Gloucester Royal, Cheltenham General Hospital, Scarborough Hospital and the University Hospitals of North Midlands in Staffordshire.

The action by Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has come on the same day that NHS England released records showing it has failed to meet the target of seeing 95 per cent of patients in accident and emergency within four hours.

Instead the figure across the country is 92.6 per cent.