Sharp rise in people seeking help at East Surrey Hospital A&E

Thousands more people were treated at East Surrey Hospital’s emergency department last month than over the same period during the past two years.

Nationally, the NHS says it had its busiest ever month in October and responded to the highest number of 999 calls on record.

East Surrey Hospital’s A&E unit - which treats people from Horsham and Crawley as well as Surrey - treated more than 10,200 people in October.

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That’s thousands more than during the same period over the past two years.

Nationally, 999 calls are at a record high

Figures show that in October last year the emergency department treated 7,800 people and 8,900 were treated in October 2019.

It has meant that the South East Coast Ambulance Service has also been busy with some patients having to wait longer for an ambulance to arrive.

And, once at A&E, some people have also had to wait longer to be seen by a doctor.

Michael Wilson, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust which runs East Surrey Hospital, said: “The latest A&E waiting times published this week showed more than eight out of every 10 patients at East Surrey Hospital waited less than the national standard of four hours to either be discharged or admitted which is significantly better than the national average.

“We understand some people have waited longer than we’d like - I would like to pay tribute to our staff who continue to work relentlessly to ensure the extremely high numbers of patients we are seeing are given outstanding care and seen as quickly as possible.

“Local people can play their part by using the full range of NHS services; NHS 111 online or over the phone can provide advice, while local pharmacies and urgent care centres can see patients for many urgent needs.”

And a spokesperson for the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our staff work extremely hard to respond to patients as quickly as possible, prioritising those who are most seriously ill and injured and we are sorry that some patients are waiting a long time for a response.

“Demands on our service remain high due to a rise in calls to 999 and 111, wider pressures being felt across the NHS in our region and our available resources at this time.

“We are working closely with all our hospitals to manage this demand.

“Members of the public can help us by considering which service suits their needs best and making use of alternatives to 999 if they are not facing a serious or life-threatening emergency.”

Nationally, major A&Es treated over 1.4 million people during October – the highest ever for the month and third highest of all time.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “With the highest number of 999 calls ever answered for a single month, the busiest October on record for major A&E and the rollout of boosters as part of the successful NHS vaccination programme, there is no doubt pressure on the health service remains incredibly high.

“But despite high demand, NHS staff are going above and beyond to see more patients and deliver millions more tests, checks, treatments and operations.

“Increasing numbers are coming forward for treatment and this is expected to go up, but it remains really important people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell.”