Police shot a hospital patient with a 50,000-volt Taser gun after he threatened nurses with a scalpel.

The man was floored by the stun gun to end the incident at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton.

Patients were evacuated from the ward as the drama unfolded.

The alarm was raised at 5.30pm on Friday when the patient became agitated and started waving the scalpel.

Staff and patients begged the man to calm down but he continued to threaten violence.

A nurse said: “It was extremely frightening because the patient seemed so unpredictable.

“There were sick people around and this guy was threatening to stab anyone who walked past.

“At one point he appeared to lunge at one of the nurses who was trying to calm him down. He had a manic look on his face – he was obviously very unstable.”

Police arrived at the scene and quickly arrested the man. A police spokesman said: “Following reports that a male had assaulted hospital staff with a scalpel, police attended the Royal Sussex County Hospital and quickly evacuated and contained an area in Accident and Emergency.

“Police officers deployed Taser in order to incapacitate the male who was quickly secured and arrested.

“No persons were placed in any danger and the hospital was able to return to normality very swiftly.”

He added that no hospital workers were hurt in the incident.

Jonathan Street, press officer for the Royal Sussex County Hospital, said: “There was a patient in the accident and emergency department who was confused. He had a knife of some sort, or a scalpel, so staff called the police who came very swiftly and took him away.

“Our nurses are well aware of the need to be prepared for this kind of situation but I do not think it got that far as the police were very prompt.

“It is not rare to have difficult patients in the accident and emergency department but it is rare to have a situation like this and, because of that, direct action was taken and we let the police handle it.”

Officers in Sussex have used Taser stun guns 40 times in the four years the weapons have been in service.

Statistics show the Taser guns were used 18 times in the past year.

It is part of a national trend of increased use of the guns.

Sussex Police was among the first forces to use the weapon.

Officers used a Taser stun gun on November 11 last year on Yordan Stankov, 49, who stabbed a police officer with a kitchen knife outside Eastbourne’s Arndale Centre.

On July 31, a Taser gun was used to stop a 40-year-old man who claimed to be armed and threatened police when they arrived at his home in Blackman Street, Brighton.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty has said: “I am committed to giving the police the tools they need to get crime off our streets.”