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Ambulances turned away from overwhelmed A&E at Watford General Hospital
The A&E department at Watford General Hospital has become so overwhelmed ambulances had to be diverted to Stevenage today.
The move comes after emergency doctors were faced with an influx of a "significant number of patients", many of whom had complex conditions that required a stay in hospital.
One paramedic working for the East of England Ambulance Trust told the Watford Observer this caused a backlog of patients in the early hours of this morning, which saw ambulances waiting up to three hours to drop-off.
Jackie Ardley, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust chief nurse, said: "Between 7.20am and 9.30am this morning, the ambulance service diverted patients to other local hospitals.
"This is a standard approach when an A&E has been busy for a sustained period of time and helps ensure that patients are given the care they need."
The paramedic, who asked to remain anonymous, said some ambulances were sent to the Lister hospital in Stevenage, some 25 miles away.
Today top staff at the hospital urged patients not to turn up at A&E unless their condition was “serious and life-threatening”.
Ms Ardley added: "We would ask local people to remember that A&E departments are for people with serious and life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
"People who need urgent, non-life threatening medical help should call NHS111 for advice or support. "Alternatively, you can visit the urgent care centre at Hemel Hempstead Hospital or minor injuries unit at St Albans Hospital."
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