A 'CRITICAL incident' was triggered at the Isle of Wight's only hospital earlier this week.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust was under serious strain at St Mary's Hospital, in Newport, on Tuesday, and was concerned it could not provide critical services for patients.

The emergency department (ED) was busy, there were few empty beds to offer people and also difficulty discharging patients.

When a critical incident is called, the short-term measure allows the NHS to get support from other areas of the health and care system.

The serious situation was stood down within 24 hours, however, due to an increase in patients discharged, which freed up beds and allowed the pressure on the ED to ease.

Steve Parker, medical director for the trust, said: “On Tuesday evening we declared a critical incident because of ongoing pressure in many of our services.

"Thanks to the hard work of staff and the support of our partner organisations we were able to stand down the incident within 24 hours."

While the trust is no longer in that situation, Dr Parker said, the hospital does remain under significant pressure and he encouraged people to consider pharmacists or GPs as a first point of call for medical help.

He asked that Islanders and visitors only use the emergency services for urgent and life-threatening issues.

Dr Parker also asked for public support in collection of friends and family when they are ready to leave hospital.

Blockages in the flow of patients through St Mary's has been widely reported and boils down to a lack of workforce, primarily in the Adult Social Care sector.

The lack of carers means patients face a wait to be discharged, occupying a bed which is needed for a new patient waiting in the ED.

It has been described by the Isle of Wight NHS Trust as the 'perfect storm'.

Warnings and pleas have been issued to the public in the recent hot weather to take care and not do anything which would add further pressure on the already stretched health services.

Speaking at a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council's Health and Wellbeing Board this morning (Thursday) Cllr Karl Love, adult social care cabinet member, said it was important the hospital and GPs are protected from the pressures as far as possible by increasing the effort put into preventative measures.