We are appealing to the public to continue to use health services wisely after a county-wide critical incident, declared on 30 December, was stepped down across the NHS in Sussex.
Over the last few weeks, there have been very high numbers of people needing care and support and increasing numbers needing to go into hospital for various reasons, including flu, Covid and other respiratory illnesses. There has also been a significant increase in children needing to be seen and treated for suspected Strep A.
Declaring a critical incident allowed the NHS to put in additional measures and use all available capacity across the health and care system. This included rescheduling some non-urgent operations, procedures and appointments to allow the NHS to focus on patients with the most urgent clinical need. Patients affected have been contacted and had their appointments rebooked for as soon as possible.
Our hospital services remain in “business continuity”. This means many additional measures remain in place but that planned operations, procedures and appointments will be restarted.
The large number of measures that have been put in place to help the system manage the current pressures include:
- Recruiting more staff to focus on speeding up discharge from hospitals and improving the discharge process.
- Ramping up ‘virtual wards’ which allow patients who would usually require hospital care to be treated safely at home or in their place of residence.
- Creating additional capacity to see and treat children with suspected Strep A within GP services, newly established respiratory hubs and within existing Urgent Treatment Centres.
Although the system is in a better position, all services are still extremely busy and you may continue to experience some disruption to services over the coming weeks. This is due to the current pressures on services and also the planned industrial action that is expected to take place across ambulance services on 11 January and nursing staff on 18 and 19 January.
Play your part to ‘help us help you’
It’s important that you play your part to ensure everyone gets the care and support they need. Please:
- Think very carefully about choosing the most appropriate NHS service for your needs and only use 999 and A&E departments for serious or life-threatening emergencies, such as chest pain, severe bleeding or breathing difficulties.
- If you do need support and care, it may take longer than you might expect to be seen and treated. Please be patient, be kind to our staff and continue to use the most appropriate service for your needs.
- Please collect family and friends from hospital as soon as they are ready to be discharged, and support the discharge process to available community beds, to allow acute hospital beds to be freed up for those who need them most.
- Stay away from our hospitals if you have symptoms of flu or Covid or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, unless it is an emergency.
- Keep yourself protected and boost your immunity with COVID-19 and flu vaccinations if you are eligible.