Hospital bosses have warned that there is no end in sight to the crisis which has led to long delays and cancelled operations.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and Princess Royal in Haywards Heath are still on high alert some ten days after the first “major internal incident” at the trust for five years.

Non urgent operations and staff leave have been cancelled with health bosses holding four emergency meetings a day.

Ambulances are also struggling to get back on the roads as paramedics are forced to wait with patients  until beds are made available in accident and emergency.

One nurse, who called The Argus anonymously yesterday, said the situation was the worst she had seen in her 12 years.

On February 20,  Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, which runs both sites, declared a “major incident” after they became over- run with patients.

That was downgraded to the second highest level of “purple alert” on February 22.

They have remained at this level ever since, with hospital bosses saying they are unlikely to return to normal for days.

The trust confirmed that ambulances, where possible, were also being diverted away from Brighton to other hospitals.

Patients have also reported waits of more than 12 hours in A&E.

Ambulances are also getting stuck in waiting bays at A&E, with not enough beds in the ward to transfer patients to.

A trust spokesperson confirmed that paramedics were being forced to sit in the emergency unit with patients until beds became available.

She added the situation was unlikely to return to normal by Monday but refused to “speculate” on how long the alert would last.

She said: “We don’t just leave the patients on trolleys on their own – we make the ambulance staff stay with them until we can provide beds.

“However, it does mean it takes longer for them [para medics] to get out on the road.”

She added: “We continue to be busy but I wouldn’t say it is chaos.

“The purple alert is about making sure we continue safely and monitor how we are doing.

“Everyone is working extremely hard to do the very best we can for all our patients.”