PATIENTS were forced to wait in a queue of up to 13 ambulances for more than five hours to get into an Accident and Emergency department.

The emergency ward at Colchester Hospital, in Turner Road, was inundated with patients on Monday night.

The Gazette was called by a resident who was picked up at 6.30pm and did not get into the hospital until the early hours of the morning.

David Hewitt, director of service delivery at the hospital, apologised and said the influx was due to the time of year.He said: “We are currently experiencing high demand in A&E.

“With a rise in the number of emergency admissions this winter, it sometimes means some people have to wait longer than we would like. We are working closely with the East of England Ambulance Service to ensure patients wait as little time as possible before being seen.

“Assessments are made in the ambulances by the highly-trained paramedic crews as to the individual patient’s needs. They will monitor the situation to ensure the patient’s condition does not deteriorate.”

Katie Poel, a spokesman for East of England Ambulance Service, said the number of calls it attended was “nothing really out of the ordinary”.

The hospital has been on high alert several times during the winter due to the number of people needing to be admitted due to respiratory illnesses.