Incident declared as every bed was filled in North Devon on Saturday - but A&E remained open as hopsital bosses say additional resources have been put in place.

A ‘major incident’ was called at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) on Saturday morning after every available bed was filled.

Staff were told that beds were also fully occupied at all of North Devon’s community hospitals, and there were a ‘significant number’ of patients attending A&E.

The A&E department remained open and by the afternoon the incident was stood down.

Dr Alison Diamond, chief executive, praised staff and said: “Like many trusts, we have been experiencing significant pressures in the system of late due to sustained high demand for our services.

“In recent days this has been compounded by cases of diarrhoea and vomiting on some wards at NDDH and short-term staffing issues.

“We remain very busy and continue to work closely with our staff and partner organisations to resolve the issues as soon as possible.”

Despite staff being told there was an ‘internal major incident’, the trust stated this was not the same as other ‘major incidents’ happening at hospitals across the UK.

A spokesman said: “A major incident is when a situation affects multiple organisations in the healthcare system, and can include those outside of it such as the police or fire service such as a major road traffic accident.

“An internal incident is when an organisation – such as a hospital - is experiencing extreme pressure, such as demand on services for example, but the situation is internal to that organisation.”

The Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) said it was putting in place additional resources to cope with ‘unprecendented demand’.

In North Devon additional therapists have been brought into North Devon District Hospital, along with more staff to help to discharge patients from hospital.

Extra beds have opened at the acute hospital in Barnstaple, as well as at North Devon’s community hospitals.

More community nurses have also been put on the rota and some GP surgeries opened on Saturday.

Dr David Jenner, a GP from Devon and Board member of NEW Devon CCG, said: “There has been a huge rise in demand but we have put in place our winter plans to boost the support we have available.

“But the situation continues to be challenging and we are having to make some difficult choices to prioritise those patients most in need.

“We have put on extra GP appointments at the weekend and out-of-hours, opened more beds at the acute and community hospitals and brought in more specialists to help speed up safe discharge from hospital for patients.

“We’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone for continuing to use 999 and emergency departments only in life threatening situations. This is really helping us to make sure that those who need care get it.”