AMBULANCES carrying patients were forced to queue “for hours” at Colchester Hospital yesterday evening. At one stage seven emergency vehicles were outside the emergency assessment unit.

According to a hospital employee there were no beds available. The employee told the Gazette: “The ambulances are queued up, some of them with patients because the hospital is full. The ambulances are sitting outside, it’s chock-a-block. Some have been there for three hours.”

Mark Prentice, spokesperson for Colchester Hospital, said: “We had a higher than anticipated number of referrels from GPs to the emergency assessment unit.

“We have been discharging patients to other hospitals, their homes and into care in the community programmes, but we have not been able to discharge as many patients as we normally anticipate.

“Patients kept on the ambulances were looked after by health care professionals and at no point has patient safety been compromised.”