HOSPITALS in England are being told to delay pre-planned operations and routine outpatient appointments until 31 January due to winter pressures reports the BBC.
The advice comes as Milton Keynes University Hospital is telling people only to attend for emergency treatment.
Two ambulance trusts in England, east and north-east, say they are on the highest alert.
Separately, a doctor apologised on Twitter for “third world conditions” in the hospital where he works in Stoke.
The delays are likely to affect tens of thousands of operations and outpatient appointments.
NHS England’s National Emergency Pressures Panel, which met for the second time on Tuesday, said it had extended the deadline for deferral of all non-urgent inpatient elective care – such as hip or knee replacements – to 31 January, to free up capacity for the sickest of patients.
But it said cancer operations and time-critical procedures should go ahead as planned.
NHS England also gave hospitals the green light to put patients in mixed-sex wards.
Each year the service comes under increased pressure in the winter, largely as a result of an increase in certain illnesses over this period, such as flu.
It is too early to judge how bad this year’s pressures are compared with previous years.