Figures reveal A&E units closed 143 times over Christmas

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.