The impact of increased Covid-19 infections in East Sussex is dominating local health provision and putting huge pressure on its staff, according to Dr David Walker, the Medical Director of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT), which runs the Conquest and Eastbourne District General hospitals. 

Last week ESHT had around five times the number of Covid-19 positive inpatients than at the height of the first wave last April, occupying around half of all its hospital beds, he said. He urged local communities to adhere to current lockdown guidance to prevent further adverse impacts. 

Dr Walker outlined measures which the Trust has already adopted in response:

• increased critical care and overall bed capacity, including conversion of surgical wards into medical wards;

• recruited additional staff, both temporary and permanent; invited back former staff to take on important roles, and redeployed existing staff to concentrate support on other core patient services;

• rescheduled “some” routine operations so as to focus on caring for Covid-19 patients, emergency care, cancer care and diagnostics;

• suspended home births and births in the midwife-led unit so as not to risk ambulance response times in an emergency; 

• where possible, moved outpatient services online or conducted them by telephone appointments.

Dr Walker paid tribute to the Trust’s workforce: “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.”

He called upon prospective patients to “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.”

For further Covid-19 coverage see Vaccination Roll-Out: “Courageous” and “Talent” and A Covid-19 casualty

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