The University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust (UHSussex) said it is facing ‘significant, ongoing pressure’ with delays in discharging well patients being “unprecedented”, with a lack of capacity across NHS and social care services.
The trust runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and Sussex Eye Hospital, all in Brighton, as well as the Princess Royal in Haywards Heath, St Richard’s in Chichester, Southlands in Shoreham, and Worthing Hospital.
As part of its plan the trust said it will be postponing some less urgent clinical work and reallocating staff as required to support essential services; senior leaders will be working with teams to review capacity; and postponing some planned procedures in order to create space for patients needing urgent care.
A statement from the trust explained: “There are currently 232 patients who are medically ready for discharge from Sussex hospitals.
“The actions taken by the trust to help increase care for those who need it is.
“Launching a week long, multi-agency discharge event in line with our system partners and the national requirement for us to discharge 30 per cent of our medically ready for discharge patients by this Friday (January 14) and 50 per cent by January 31.”
Dr Maggie Davies, chief nurse at University Hospitals Sussex, said: “Unfortunately, this means postponing some non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments to accommodate those patients with the most urgent clinical need.
“We will continue to prioritise cancer and our other most urgent operations and appointments and are in the process of contacting those patients whose appointments are being postponed.
“We know it is distressing for people when operations are delayed and we are doing everything we can to ease pressures.”
The trust said A&E departments remain open for serious accidents and emergencies and, unless patients hear otherwise, they should continue to attend outpatient appointments.
Patients and visitors are being asked to take a lateral flow test before attending hospital and wear a surgical mask.
Dr Davies said: “People can help us manage these periods of demand by ensuring they are seeking help from the most appropriate health services through their GP, NHS 111, or their local pharmacy; they comply with our guidance, and have their booster jab.
“Our teams and community partners continue to work exceptionally hard, keeping things moving and getting our patients discharged in a timely way to create additional beds for patients who need them.
“Once patients are medically ready to leave hospital, we need their families, carers or social care settings to support them as much as necessary to be able to go home safely.”