POLICE searching for missing Shanklin woman, Charlotte Alder, stepped up their search efforts this morning (Thursday), calling out the coastguard helicopter.

The coastguard's search and rescue helicopter carried out a sweep of the Newport area at around 4am.

Since then, the Isle of Wight's volunteer search and rescue team, Wight SAR, have been deployed, alongside police officers.

Ms Alder, 44, also known as Charlotte Burch, went missing from St Mary's Hospital yesterday.

She is thought to be wearing a hospital gown and a cardigan.

Family and friends raised the alarm after Ms Alder, who has severe epilepsy and is thought to be without a phone, money or medication, went missing from the Newport hospital yesterday afternoon.

In an appeal to the public, a police spokesperson said: "She left before she was discharged, so we are all growing increasingly concerned for her welfare.

"Our officers have spent the night looking for her and are now turning to you for your help as you head out this morning.

"Charlotte left on foot and was last seen wearing a black speckled cardigan, a pink top and green trousers, which were provided by the hospital, and black boots with a fur trim.

"She is described as being white, 5ft 6ins tall, of a slim build with shoulder length brown hair and wears glasses.

"Have you seen anyone matching this description?

"If you have any information, please contact us on 101, quoting reference number 44190010676."