While the county may not have seen the dramatic surges of some areas of the country, hospital cases have been steadily rising since the onset of the second wave.
Dr George Findlay, chief medical officer at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – which operates Worthing Hospital, Southlands Hospital in Shoreham and St Richard’s in Chichester – insisted the situation was under control.
“Our staff have done an outstanding job throughout the pandemic, planning thoroughly and responding incredibly well to unprecedented challenges,” he said.
“I wish to thank each and every one of them.
“Sadly, over the past month we have seen hospital cases increase, reflecting the higher numbers of people infected with coronavirus in our local population.
“Fortunately, we are well prepared for this and have extensive measures in place to protect our patients and staff from the virus. These include the separation of Covid and non-Covid wards.
“As we experience a second wave in cases, it is important we all support the lockdown to break the chain of infection. However, there are exceptions, including attending healthcare appointments.
“If you do have a hospital appointment it is really important you attend. We are prioritising tests and procedures based on clinical need, so those who need them get them soonest, and then we prioritise those who have been waiting longest.
“We continue to do all that we can to provide care for people in a timely, safe way. We regret that some patients are waiting longer but we wish to reassure people that no one has been forgotten.”
According to the trust, as of yesterday (November 16) there were 28 Covid-19 patients being cared for in Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s, including four in intensive care.
A total of ten were being treated at Worthing, with a further 18 at St Richard’s.
At the peak of the first wave on April 16 there were 81 Covid-19 patients being treated in West Sussex hospitals. The number of intensive care patients peaked at 26 on April 9.
As hospitals struggled to cope with demand, non-urgent care was cancelled, leaving many with agonising waits for procedures.
Since the first wave, the NHS has developed Covid-free pathways to diagnostics and treatment for non-Covid patients, which should help avoid the need to make such wholescale cancellations.
Private hospitals such as BMI Healthcare’s Goring Hall in Worthing and Nuffield Health in Chichester have also helped pick up the slack, providing services for non-Covid patients.
According to the trust, the private sector has been used to provide services such as orthopaedics, urology, gynaecology and endoscopy, to support its elective programme and to reduce waiting times for its patients.
Worthing has reported an infection rate of 74 per 100,000 people – significantly lower than the national average of 215, for the week November 5 - 11.
Chichester’s stands at 135, Arun at 94 and Adur at 87, according to Public Health England.