Non-emergency patients are being warned they will face an ‘extremely long wait’ if they attend A&E.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Richard’s Hospital and Worthing Hospital, issued a warning on Tuesday that the department was under ‘severe pressure’.
It said: “Non-emergency patients are likely to have an extremely long wait and could be taking staff away from caring for patients who need emergency or life-saving care.
“We are currently under severe pressure, please don’t come to A&E unless it is a real emergency.”
The trust is asking people to seek medical help from NHS 111, which offers advice and can direct patients to the most appropriate place to go.
The trust said: “Please bear with us during this time of unprecedented demand and help us prioritise our most urgent patients.”
Call handlers in Kent, Surrey and Sussex dealt with more than 9,500 999 calls over the Easter weekend. Bosses at South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust have praised staff and volunteers at the trust, who they said ‘went the extra mile’ to respond to patients.
Across the region demand was up 11 per cent compared to Easter 2015. #Staff in the region’s NHS 111 service, which SECAmb runs in partnership with Care UK, were also busy and 2,000 calls received an ambulance response. The trust said it was working with hospitals to make sure patients are handed over without delay.
James Pavey, SECAmb paramedic and regional operations manager, said: “We plan ahead for periods of increased demand and we were aware this weekend was going to be challenging. It’s an understatement to simply say that staff and volunteers have risen to this challenge. We’re extremely proud of their continued dedication in the face of this increased demand.
“As we begin a new week, we’re continuing to experience high levels of demand and we are focussing our efforts to responding to our most seriously ill and injured patients. Non life-threatening calls are unfortunately likely to receive a longer response. Anyone faced with an emergency shouldn’t hesitate to call but we would urge anyone else who needs help to consider all the other options available.”
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