BASILDON Hospital has been on high alert for most of the winter after a surge in patient numbers.

The number of patients flooding into A&E in the past three months is up 10 per cent.

Hospital bosses said despite the rise, which saw them put on red and black alert for most of the winter, the trust had coped well.

Ian Luder, chairman of the Basildon Hospital board of directors, praised staff and revealed the figures at the latest board of directors’ meeting on Wednesday.

He said: “The bare statistics understate the huge effort this has required by staff, not only within A&E, but throughout the Trust.

“To succeed for one day is creditable, but to maintain the commitment over the whole winter period is really excellent.”

In January 8,818 patients attended accident and emergency, up 10.5 per cent on the previous January.

February is already proving to be the same with more than 4,200 patients in the first 14 days.

It carried on a trend from December when almost 10 per cent more patients came through the door than the previous year.

Mr Luder said the hospital had been able to cope with the influx thanks to the new 28- bed ward which opened in December.

Despite the increase in patients, the hospital has managed to reach the national target of seeing 95 per cent of patients in A&E within four hours.

Staff have also not had to cancel any elective operations because of the increase.

It is hoped numbers will reduce from next month.