Hospital trust ‘working at full capacity but coping’

Conquest Hospital, Hastings
Conquest Hospital, Hastings
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The East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said it has been ‘working at full capacity, but coping’ during the winter pressures that have impacted NHS England.

The trust has seen an 11 per cent increase in attendances at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital’s emergency departments during the winter period.

Dr Adrian Bull, chief executive of the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Like many other trusts, we are seeing a greater demand for our services over the winter period.

“We have seen an 11 per cent increase in attendances at our emergency departments and we are seeing patients with more severe symptoms.

“This means that our two hospitals and community services are under pressure and are working at full capacity, but coping with the extra demand.

On Wednesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt apologised to patients who may have their operations delayed following measures to defer planned operations and routine outpatient appointments until the end of the month due to the severe winter pressures.

He told Sky News: “There are real pressures, no question about it.

“This is the busiest week of the year for the NHS.

“What is different this year compared to last year is that (last year) we had a lot of operations cancelled at the last minute, a lot of people were called up the day before their operation and told, ‘I’m sorry, it can’t go ahead’.

“And we recognise that it is better, if you are unfortunately going to have to cancel or postpone some operations, to do it in a planned way, and that’s why this year this independent panel has decided to take this decision.

“And that, I think, in the end, is better for people.

“Although if you are someone whose operation has been delayed I don’t belittle that for one moment, and indeed I apologise to everyone who that has happened to.”

The East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said it has taken steps to reduce ‘some’ routine surgery but expects the pressure to remain over the next few days.

Dr Bull added: “We are working closely with our partners in adult social care to support patients to stay at home where appropriate and be discharged from hospital once they are medically stable.

“Our winter plans are helping us to manage this increase in demand.

“Our plans included a reduction in some routine surgery, to increase bed space.

“We are continuing with our planned level of activity, most of which is day surgery, although this is being reviewed on a day to day basis.

“We are prioritising the assessment and treatment of patients according to clinical need which means that all cancer and urgent cases are planned to go ahead.

“We expect the pressure to remain over the next few days, however our focus remains on providing the highest quality service for our patients.”

NHS England has estimated the measures could lead to up to 55,000 deferred operations, although cancer operations and time-critical procedures should go ahead as planned.