A surge in patients in the cold snap has spurred Brighton hospital bosses to declare a “critical incident”.
Nearly 500 patients turned up at the Royal Sussex County Hospital at the weekend – but it’s not just the numbers, it’s also the severity and complexity that is stretching staff.
Some non-urgent operations and routine clinics have been cancelled as medics focus on dealing with the situation.
The trust that runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital said: “We’ve had an extremely busy weekend – even by our standards – which comes on the back of being really busy over the past month.”
Initially there was a spike in the number of patients with broken bones and quite a few wrist injuries when it was icy.
But four to five days after the start of a cold spell there has been a surge in seriously ill patients.
The trust declared an internal “critical incident” which gives those running the Royal Sussex the licence to clear the decks and do things differently, including putting off non-urgent operations.
One member of staff said: “To ensure we have more staff on the front line treating patients here already, we’ve cancelled all meetings, cancelled some clinics and operations and are working doubly hard to ensure we can discharge patients who are well enough to leave.
“We’ve also brought our specialty doctors physically closer to the front door so we can more quickly treat and discharge patients who don’t need to be admitted on to a ward.”
The trust – Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust – 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
– We would ask people to think about the care they need
– Use an alternative if appropriate, such as talking to a pharmacist, calling NHS 111 or using the NHS walk-in centre at Brighton Station