The Red Cross has stepped in to help the NHS in Britain cope with winter pressures, warning of a "humanitarian crisis".

It has emerged two patients died in the same accident and emergency department in the last week.

The latest figures show the NHS is coming under increased pressure, with overflowing A&E departments shutting their doors to patients more than 140 times in December.

Yesterday, a national body warned that a third of health trusts in England had issued alerts that they needed urgent action to cope last month, with seven of those unable to provide comprehensive care.

Meanwhile it was revealed the London Ambulance Service suffered a computer blackout on New Year's Eve that forced call handlers to revert to pen and paper on the busiest night of the year.

NHS England said plans were in place to deal with demand and urged the public to use pharmacies and NHS 111 for medical advice.

However shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said it was "staggering" that the Red Cross had been drafted in to help.

"For the Red Cross to brand the situation a 'humanitarian crisis' should be a badge of shame for government ministers," he said.

Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson said extra cash was needed for health and social care to make the system sustainable.

"The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country," he said.

"We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much needed beds."

The charity has already provided support to staff at the East Midlands Ambulance Service across Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Kettering and Northampton.

However, Keith Willett, director of acute care for NHS England, said it had worked with the charity over recent winters, funding and supporting it with its "excellent service at home and ambulance service".

He added: "But on the international scale of a humanitarian crisis, I do not think the NHS is at that point."

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said that it was investigating two deaths at Worcestershire Royal Hospital's A&E department in Worcester in the last week.

In one of the cases a female patient on an emergency trolley on a corridor within A&E suffered an aneurysm and later died in a resuscitation bay, it is understood.

Another patient died after suffering a cardiac arrest on another A&E trolley within the department after waiting 35 hours for a ward bed elsewhere in the hospital.

The trust said it was also investigating the death of a third patient on a separate ward in the same period.

All three deaths happened between last Saturday and midnight on Tuesday.

The trust said accident and emergency departments had been "extremely busy" through Christmas and New Year.