A PATIENT with suspected Ebola was sent to A&E at York Hospital because of a shortage of beds at a regional assessment area.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust was designated a specialist area for the region by Public Health England (PHE) during the height of the outbreak in West Africa.

But when two possible cases were referred to the centre by PHE there were no beds available and patients were diverted away - with the first sent to Leeds and the second sent to the emergency department in York.

Dr Peter Moss, director of infection prevention and control at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "2014-15 witnessed the largest outbreak to date of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

The epidemic was centred in West Africa, but for the first time cases were imported to Britain and other European countries.

"Hull & East Yorkshire NHS Trust was designated by Public Health England as a regional assessment centre for patients suspected of having EVD.

"Unfortunately on the two occasions during 2014-15 on which the Trust was asked by PHE to take a patient there was no bed available. On one occasion the patient was diverted to the ID unit in Leeds (with significant delay), and on the second occasion they were managed in the ED at York, as Leeds had no beds available either."

Dr Moss made the comments in a report on infection control presented to the Hull trust.

The Ebola virus disease is a serious illness that originated in Africa and caused the deaths of more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

At the peak of the outbreak, York Hospital said it was important possible cases were kept in isolation.

A spokesperson for York Hospital emphasised there had not been any confirmed cases of Ebola at York Hospital.

They said: "We had one patient who came to York A&E who met the criteria for testing for Ebola. However, it was ruled out and we were able to continue to treat the patient at York Hospital."