IT has been revealed that Bolton Hospital has declared a Black Alert as staff try to deal with hundreds of patients and a severe lack of beds.

The hospital has been raised to its highest level of pressure this year after more than 400 people attended yesterday (Sunday), it is believed.

Black alerts are the most extreme measure of pressure that the hospital can experience.

Rae Wheatcroft, deputy chief operating officer at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said the problems had escalated as winter begins.

“We are currently experiencing heightened pressure across the trust,” she said.

“As we have moved into the winter months there have been times when we have been busier than we would have expected across the hospital, which has led to us being at black on our internal escalation status.

“Our top priority at all times is patient safety, and we are working hard to ensure that everyone who needs a bed is admitted and treated as quickly as possible.”

The Bolton News understands that this is the first time in 2019 that the hospital has been raised to this point.

Tasha Allred said she visited the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department on Sunday evening to be treated for a chronic condition.

She said she arrived at the hospital at 8pm and waited until midnight. She saw hundreds of people sitting on the floor and waiting to be treated.

“I lay on the floor at Bolton Hospital A and E last night,” she said. “Hundreds of people were sat or lay on floors as the place was packed out. I have chronic illnesses so have to attend quite often unfortunately and I’ve seen it busy but last night was the worst ever.

“I saw triage after three hours on the floor to be told it would be another 10 hours to see a doctor and then there would be no beds.

“I had to discharge even though i was really poorly.”

Mark Sarsfield was scheduled to have an operation on his foot after breaking a bone in April but he says his surgery has been cancelled twice by hospital staff due to a lack of beds.

The 28-year-old engineer said: “This is a problem that’s been going on since April.

“The hospital cancelled the first time in October and told me there was no space.

“Then it was meant to be on December 10 but they brought it forward to the 6th and then cancelled it on the day. They told me there were not enough beds.”

Hospital bosses have previously warned that the winter period was bringing “significant pressure” to Bolton.

In the final week of November more than 400 people visited the emergency department every day for three consecutive days.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust chief operating officer Andy Ennis said that “400 plus days” typically only occurs once a year but last month alone there were four.

Mr Ennis said that the figures for November had improved slightly but services were still under “significant pressure”. He also told the board of directors that an extra 26 beds opened in the hospital this month, with a further 12 expected to open within community facilities across the borough.

It comes after October was reported as the busiest month ever at Bolton’s A&E with only 70 per cent of patients treated within the four-hour target.