A Dartford hospital declared an alert level indicating it may be forced to refuse or withdraw critical care due to coronavirus patient levels.

But Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust later clarified that this declaration was an "administrative error".

Darent Valley Hospital declared itself at CRITCON four alert level yesterday, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) reports, meaning patients could be refused life-saving care due to “resource limitation".

The "extremely rare" declaration is defined in guidance as: "Resources overwhelmed. Possibility of triage by resource (non-clinical refusal or withdrawal of critical care due to resource limitation).

“This must only be implemented on national directive from [NHS England] and in accordance with national guidance.”

The trust subsequently moved to clarify the situation, stating: “The trust is not and has never been in CRITCON level four.”

However, Darent Valley is still appearing on the internal NHS dashboard as CRITCON level four, the HSJ reports.

HSJ further reported that NHS England would not confirm the mistake, saying only that it was for the trust to comment.

Dartford is currently one of the areas worst hit by coronavirus in England, with an infection rate of 1238 cases per 100,000 people in the latest week.

According to data in the dashboard seen by HSJDarent Valley Hospital was at 173 per cent of its baseline level of beds for critical care this morning. 

Hospitals across the county are treating twice as many coronavirus patients than they did at the height of the first wave, according to Kent and Medway CCG.

People have been asked to use NHS services “wisely” as pressure on hospitals, the ambulance service and 111 mounts.