DARENT Valley Hospital was closed to admissions for six-and-a-half-hours yesterday morning.

The “short closure” from 5am to 11.30am stopped GPs and ambulance teams from referring or dropping off patients after every bed in the hospital was full up.

Children and those visiting A&E on foot were not affected as doctors were allowed extra time to make ward rounds and discharge patients to cope with the seasonal surge in numbers.

A spokesman for Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust said ambulance crews decided which was the most appropriate hospital to use instead of Darent Valley.

Options included Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Maidstone Hospital and Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

He added: “Any patient in immediate need of emergency treatment would of course be seen.”

Clinical accountable officer for Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group Dr David Woodhead, said: “This is the busiest time of year for the NHS and Darent Valley Hospital reached its full capacity.

“The hospital therefore had to close for a short time until beds became available.

“Throughout the short closure we liaised closely with all our partners at other hospitals in the region, the ambulance service, Kent County Council and GP surgeries to manage the current demand effectively.”