Delays in the handover of patients from ambulance staff to A&E teams at Watford General Hospital were caused by a peak in demand last week.

Sally Tucker, the trust’s chief operating officer, said the surge was felt at the Watford hospital and others across Hertfordshire, meaning some patients may have been forced to wait in corridors before receiving treatment.

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“At times of extreme pressure, patients do experience a delay in being offloaded from the ambulance into the department. Decisions about which patients wait are always made on safety grounds and in accordance with their clinical need,” she said.

“We closely monitor the number of patients in the emergency department and if it is becoming very crowded then patients may need to wait in a corridor where the ambulance crew will stay with them.

“We are approaching what is always the busiest time of year and so would ask people to consider alternatives to visiting an emergency department.

“Whilst we would always want people with serious injuries, in severe pain or suffering a suspected stroke or heart attack to call an ambulance and access emergency care, we are still seeing many patients in A&E who could be treated safely in other settings.

“The 111 service can advise anyone on which option is best and they can also send out ambulances when needed.”