People living in East Sussex have been told to adhere to the guidance or risk overwhelming the local NHS.
The message came as the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust revealed that Conquest and DGH are now seeing around five times the number of Covid-19 positive inpatients compared to the height of the first wave in March and April. During December, the trust saw an eightfold increase in the number of positive Covid-19 patients.
The trust said approximately half of its beds are now occupied by patients with Covid-19.
As a result of this huge pressure, the trust has made some changes to the servcies it provides in order to make sure it can care for those who most need it.
The latest government statistics showed that, of the 253 people in Sussex who died in the week to January 11, 137 were in East Sussex.
Public Health England’s figures recorded 42 deaths in Hastings, 38 in Rother, 25 in Wealden, 17 in Eastbourne and 15 in Lewes. There were a further 23 deaths in Brighton and Hove during that time period.
‘The challenge we face is big, but not impossible’
In response to the latest figures, East Sussex Medical Director Dr David Walker urged the public to ‘stay home, protect the NHS and
He said: “I am personally urging each and every one of our local residents to stick to the lockdown rules or we risk overwhelming our local NHS services. We have seen a significant increase in Covid-19 positive patients at ESHT over the last month, which reflects the increase in cases in East Sussex.
“The scale of the challenge we face locally is big, but not impossible. We need to work together as a community again – as we did last year to: Stay and home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives. It will take all of our efforts to combat this virus.
“I want to thank our dedicated staff who have been working tirelessly without let-up for nearly a year to provide patients with the best possible care during the pandemic. I am still astonished by the levels of compassion and high quality care that our teams provide each and every day, even as we face such challenges.
“You can also help by using NHS services wisely. We are here for you when you need it; if you need urgent or emergency care, phone 999 or come to hospital. If you need non-urgent support we ask that you use 111 first; GP surgeries and pharmacies.”
East Sussex Healthcare Trust makes a number of changes
ESHT has had to make a number of changes to make sure it can continue to provide care to those who most need it and to keep patients and staff safe:
– Since the beginning of the pandemic, the trust has increased critical care and overall bed capacity, for example it has converted surgical wards into medical wards to support more patients
– It has increased recruitment both temporary and permanent and invited people who have left the NHS to come back and take on important roles. Members of staff with clinical experience are putting on uniforms and non clinical members of staff are being redeployed to help support other core patient services
– The trust has rescheduled some routine operations – to allow the hospitals to focus on caring for Covid-19 patients, emergency care, cancer care and diagnostics
– It has also temporarily suspended home births and births at its midwife-led unit, because the trust said it cannot be assured about timely ambulance response times in an emergency. All births will now be at Conquest
– Where possible, the trust is moving outpatient services online and allowing for virtual or telephone appointments
– The trust has now opened two vaccination hubs at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH which are vaccinating frontline health and care staff across East Susses as part of a Sussex–wide vaccination programme