Hospitals respond to ‘unprecedented pressure’ in A&E departments

Eastbourne District General Hospital
Eastbourne District General Hospital

Extra beds have been made available at Eastbourne DGH after a ‘surge’ in patients attending A&E.

The situation at the Eastbourne hospital mirrors that of others around the country, where A&E departments are seeing an ‘unprecedented demand’.

This comes as it was revealed no hospitals in Sussex are meeting the 95 per cent target to see patients within four hours.

The East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust, which runs the Eastbourne DGH and Conquest Hospital in Hastings, said it has opened up additional bed capacity to cope with the demand.

It said it has also increased community provision and is working with Adult Social Care to get interim packages of care in place to help get some patients discharged sooner.

Dr David Hughes, Medical Director of governance at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said, “Conquest and Eastbourne District General Hospitals are here to help anyone who needs urgent assessment and care; and we continue to provide that round the clock.

“Over the past few days we have seen unprecedented pressures on our services, particularly in the Emergency Departments and those needing urgent admission.

“We therefore need to make sure that our hospital beds and resources are saved for those who need them most.

“Due to the pressures we are facing, we are appealing to the public to think carefully about whether they need to visit A&E. You can really help us by taking the appropriate action to treat your condition, which might mean contacting your GP or attending a pharmacy, walk-in centre, Minor Injuries Unit or ringing NHS 111.

“Better use of all the available services will help to ensure that we are able to treat those patients whose need is greatest. Our staff are working extremely hard to maintain these services and are to be commended during this difficult time.”

Dr Martin Writer, Eastbourne GP and chair of Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG / Dr Roger Elias, Bexhill GP and chair of Hastings and Rother CCG said, “A&E and 999 are for emergencies - if it’s not an emergency, other services are available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We know that 1 in 3 visits to A&E could be dealt with outside of hospital.

“People often think that visiting their local A&E or calling 999 is their only option when their GP surgery is closed, but this is not the case. There are lots of services that offer treatment and advice in the evenings and at the weekend, including local pharmacists (who are trained to help deal with minor ailments), walk in centres, NHS 111 and out-of-hours GP services.”

Dr Jane Pateman, Medical Director of South East Coast Ambulance Service said, “Knowing where to go and who to call is key. Please remember that 999 should be used for seriously-ill or injured patients only, and NHS 111 can put you in touch with the out-of-hours service when you need it and your local GP surgery is closed, or when you cannot contact your GP surgery. NHS 111 in Sussex is run by the ambulance service. The helpline can also tell you where your nearest walk-in clinic is and late-night pharmacies. They can even call an ambulance for you if you do need to go to A&E.”

The East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust denies reports it closed the A&E department at Eastbourne DGH yesterday.

The South East Coast Ambulance Trust also denied reports that ambulances were diverted to other hospitals.

An ambulance spokesman said, “There were no diverts agreed for East Sussex yesterday.”