Reports of a so-called ‘black alert’ at North Devon District Hospital over the weekend were incorrect, the health trust has said.

There had been reports on social media saying the hospital was at ‘black alert’ – the highest level of capacity with no available resources.

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said the former alert terms were no longer used, but it was actually at Operational Pressures Escalation Levels (OPEL) 3, which would previously have been red alert. Black alert is 4.

The trust said it had been experiencing significant pressures and had called an internal major incident to enable teams across the trust to implement the appropriate escalation plans.

And it urged people to think carefully about whether they needed to attend A and E or whether their complaint could be dealt with by their GP, pharmacist or a minor injuries unit.

A spokesperson said: “We are experiencing high demand on services and over the past few days we have had a high number of hospital admissions and high number of attendances at our emergency department, many of whom needed intensive medical attention.

“We are dealing with these pressures as part of our normal escalation plans.

“Our staff are working incredibly hard, and I want to thank all of them for continuing to do their very best to make sure patients receive the best possible care and have the right support in place to return home as soon as it is safe to do so.”

They added: “We appeal to all members of the public to use the right service to help all parts of the healthcare system recover.

“Please think carefully about whether the most appropriate NHS service for your needs could be a minor injuries unit, your local GP or pharmacy, or the NHS 111 helpline.

“Real-time waiting and travel times for local urgent NHS services are now available through the NHSquicker app, which can help people across Devon and Cornwall to make informed decisions about where to go for urgent care.”