A Norfolk hospital has declared a "critical incident" after a rush of A&E patients saw dozens of people crammed into extra beds.

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston currently has more than 70 patients in its "escalation beds" - additional beds added to hospitals to increase capacity in busy times.

The increase in demand on the hospital's emergency department saw bosses declare a "critical incident".

This is a move NHS organisations take when it is under so much pressure it can not fully deliver its services without putting patients at risk.

As part of its response to this pressure the hospital has been forced to use 78 'escalation beds' and urge people to only attend A&E in extreme situations.

It is a measure similar to that being taken by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital when it adds seventh beds to six-bed wards.

However, a spokesman for the Gorleston hospital has confirmed its extra beds are in pre-designated spaces and that unlike the N&N, it has not had to resort to placing patients in corridors.

But bosses have urged patients to turn to NHS 111 if they have an urgent medical need - rather than attending A&E in the first instance.

A spokesman said: "We are currently experiencing high demand at our hospital and, as such, would remind people only to attend A&E if it is a genuine emergency.

"Patients with appointments and procedures at the hospital should still attend as planned, unless they hear from us.

"We are working closely with our partners in the Norfolk and Waveney healthcare system to maximise capacity during this period of high pressure."

A spokeswoman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, however, confirmed it is not currently in a critical incident.