A "major incident" has been declared at an English hospital that now has 38 Covid-19 patients on its highest-level ventilated intensive care beds.
The incident was declared last night (Friday, November 27) after the number of coronavirus patients requiring emergency care at the Royal Stoke University Hospital's intensive care unit swelled.
StokeOnTrentLive reported that the 38 patients on ventilators were among 322 coronavirus patients currently in beds across both the Royal Stoke, which also cares for Welsh patients across the border, and the nearby County Hospital in Stafford.
The Welsh hospital with the most coronavirus patients on ventilators is Swansea's Morriston Hospital, which is now using a makeshift intensive care ward in a waiting area after the number of Covid-19 patients on ventilators reached 21.
As a result, there are currently only seven ventilators left between the two hospitals, and the critical care unit at the Royal Stoke has seen its alert level increased from three to four.
The Royal Stoke is a major trauma centre which covers the North West Midlands, and parts of north Wales.
Hospital bosses have now reached an agreement with NHS trusts in Birmingham and Coventry and Warwickshire to transfer some of their critically-ill patients to hospitals in the West Midlands.
This arrangement remains in place until midday on Tuesday and is reviewed daily.
Royal Stoke chief executive Tracy Bullock has apologised to patients and families caught up in the chaos.
She said: "We have been experiencing significant pressure across all areas of both hospitals, and particularly within the critical care service at the Royal Stoke.
“We have put in place a range of measures to ensure NHS resources are directed where they are needed during the Covid-19 pandemic and to make sure that both hospitals, staff and patients remain safe and care is prioritised to protect staff, patients and our services."
It comes as Royal Stoke staff are currently facing 'unprecedented pressures', according to The Mirror.
Royal College of Nursing leader Rob Irving said: "We've never experienced anything like this before and what it creates is a huge amount of pressure on everybody in the organisation to try to do what's best for patients. And sometimes when you're under this kind of pressure those decisions aren't easy and won't please everybody.
"Tracy is in a position where she's got to try to do what's best for the majority of patients in the trust and when you haven't got enough beds to house all the patients that need them, these are the kind of decisions that unfortunately have to be made.
"The decision to move patients out of the trust's intensive care won't be taken lightly by any stretch of the imagination. They are last resort decisions.
"I can, hand on heart, say those decisions won't have been taken unless absolutely necessary."