A critical incident declared at Lister Hospital in Stevenage yesterday (Tuesday) due to "huge demand" on the emergency department, and roof leaks forcing ward closures, has now been stood down.

According to NHS England, a critical incident can be declared "during times of extreme pressure", when a hospital is unable to deliver critical services, is experiencing incidents where patients' safety and wellbeing are at risk, and is in need of support from other health and multi-agency partners to restore normal operating functions.

The critical incident declaration came after the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister Hospital, declared a business continuity incident on Wednesday last week, after heavy rainfall caused leaks in Lister's roof and forced the closure of wards 11A north and 11A south.

Yesterday, Doctor Michael Chilvers, medical director at the NHS Trust, said a critical incident had been declared "following a period of huge demand on [the] emergency department after the bank holiday, and closure of two wards due to roof leaks".

This afternoon, a spokesman for the NHS Trust said: “Following our declaration yesterday, we can confirm we are no longer in a critical incident, however Lister Hospital remains very busy.

“If you are attending Lister Hospital's emergency department, you will continue to wait a long time unless you have a life or limb-threatening illness or injury.

"The Urgent Care Centre at the New QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City is open from 8am to 10pm to treat minor illnesses or injuries, with a far shorter wait than at Lister.

"Alternatively, we urge the public to contact NHS 111 by visiting 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111, who can direct you to the most appropriate care.

“We’d like to thank our staff, patients and the local community for their support.”