Hinchingbrooke Hospital was last week put on its highest alert after the NHS in Cambridgeshire was put under intense pressure.

The Huntingdon hospital was put on "black alert" over the November 15/16 weekend meaning it was almost full and had high numbers of patients visiting Accident and Emergency.

Hinchingbrooke's status meant that all three emergency departments in Cambridgeshire weren't accepting new patients as Peterborough City and Addenbrooke's hospitals were also on black alert.

Since its last black alert, Hinchingbrooke has not raised the alarm again but it is feared that emergency departments are going to be put under more strain in the coming months as already hospitals are seeing an increase in the number of patients and so far this autumn and winter the weather has been more mild than 12 months ago.

One of the reasons for Hinchingbrooke's black alert is believed to be the added pressure from patients from Peterborough and Cambridge. It is also thought that a combination of an aging population, lack of access to GPs at weekends and the NHS's 111 telephone service being cautious with its diagnoses.

A spokesman for Hinchingbrooke said: "Emergency attendances have been rising all year, and in the past few weeks we have seen a surge of patients. That puts hospitals under huge pressure. It's the same across Cambridgeshire. Addenbrooke's and Peterborough have been on black alert on and off for several months, and last week, we joined them.

"This requires a joined up response from the local NHS - especially on helping healthy patients move on to social care or back home, so that we focus on patients who urgently need our help.

"We will do everything to ensure that in this exceptionally busy period, there is no interruption to good care for patients."