NEARLY every bed is taken at Southend Hospital fuelling fears over a critical incident as the NHS enters the heightened winter period.

Across the mid and south Essex NHS trust, just 98 beds were available at the end of last week, alarming figures have revealed.

The current situation at the hospital, and nationally, is “increasing rapidly”, according to the director of public health at Southend Council, Krishna Ramkhelawon.

Hospital bosses have urged patients to ring 111 before attending A&E, as the pressure mounts on staff.


Mr Ramkhelawon, told the Echo the hospital is running at between 88 and 93 per cent capacity as of Monday morning.

He said: “It’s almost at the limit of safe management [95 per cent].

“I suspect they have challenges in A&E at the moment.

“We are recovering from a huge backlog [of surgery], so we are using a lot of capacity already for that.

“During the critical incident in December last year, we were running at 101 per cent capacity.”

Conversations about declaring a critical incident will take place “in the next two weeks”.

As of October 28, just six critical care beds were available across the mid and south Essex NHS trust. 1,404 beds in general admission were occupied, with just 30 Covid beds free.

The Echo understands that ten ambulances were left waiting outside the A&E department at Southend Hospital on Friday, unable to unload patients. However, the situation could be improving in Southend, with the next few days “critical.”

A spokesman from the mid and south Essex NHS Trust, said: “We have seen a high demand in our A&E department, which has sometimes meant longer waiting times for those attending.”

They said the public can help by calling 111 before visiting A&E, other than where there is a life threatening situation. This reduces the number of visitors to our emergency department.”