Figures reveal A&E units closed 143 times over Christmas

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NEARLY 150 emergency departments were closed at some point over the festive period.

Figures from NHS England reveal that between December 1, 2016 and January 1 this year, there were 143 diversions. This was a 63 per cent rise on the 88 recorded for December 1 to January 3 the previous year.

As previously reported in The News Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, had to close for four-and-a-half hours on December 29 due to an influx in patients.

They also called in extra consultants.

NHS officials say A&E diverts should only occur as a ‘last resort’ and are put in place when A&E departments cannot cope with any more patients.

Instead, patients are sent to other hospitals for treatment.

The latest data show there were 42 diverts over Christmas week - the highest on record. This compares with about 20 diverts on average over a typical winter week of the NHS.

Guidance says A&E diverts should only occur during exceptional circumstances.

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