Wrist injuries and ‘seriously ill patients’ in the aftermath of the cold weather last week led the Royal Sussex County Hospital to declare a ‘critical incident’ on Monday (March 5).
The hospital said it had seen an increase in patients after the cold snap which meant it had an ‘extremely bus weekend’ and all its beds were full.
A spokesman for the NHS trust which runs the hospital said by declaring a critical incident, it could ‘clear the decks and do things differently’.
This means it could call in more staff on the front line to treat patients already at the hospital, and that the trust cancelled all meetings, and some operations to meet the demand.
He said 292 patients were admitted to accident and emergency (A&E) at the Royal Sussex County Hospital alone – the average is between 210 to 220 – but despite this the hospital has no-one waiting in the corridor overnight.
He added on Tuesday that the trust was ‘in a much better position today’.
The Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust (BSUH) which runs the Royal Sussex and the Princess Royal in Haywards Heath confirmed it had declared a critical incident at both sites.
A BSUH statement said: “We are always open for patients who are seriously ill.
“Our staff are working extremely hard to ensure every patient is treated safely and as quickly as possible.
“Following last week’s cold weather, like hospitals across the country, we have had an increase of seriously ill patients arriving at our Emergency Departments.
“Thanks to their incredible efforts yesterday at both the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, we are in a much better position today, despite very high levels of patients coming in to our A&E departments.
“We would ask people to think about the care they need and use an alternative if appropriate, such as talking to their pharmacist, calling NHS 111 or using the NHS walk-in centre at Brighton Station.”
The ambulance service which covers Sussex said it was also under pressure this week. A South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) spokesperson said: “Along with the wider health service we continue to be extremely busy and, as ever, are working closely with our hospital colleagues to manage this increased demand. We urge everyone to remember that 999 should only be dialled in the event of a life-threatening or serious emergency.
“We are continuing to prioritise our most seriously ill and injured patients and patients not in a life-threatening or serious condition may have to wait longer than we would like. We’d also like to remind everyone of the alternatives to calling 999 or attending A&E including seeking help and advice from NHS 111, making an appointment with their GP or speaking to a pharmacist.”