Keep Sussex safe as health and care services manage high demand

Due to the sharp increase in COVID-19 infection rates across our communities in Sussex in recent weeks, demand for NHS and care services across the county has risen significantly.

Staff across the NHS and local authorities are working tirelessly to ensure they continue to provide safe consistent care.

Hospitals, community teams, mental health services, social care, GP practices and the NHS111 service are incredibly busy, but remain open and there for you.

Your GP practice is open and continuing to provide online, phone and face to face appointments for those who need them.

NHS 111 can also be used 24/7 either by calling 111 or going online – 111.nhs.uk. You can access help, advice and even a time slot with the right health service for your needs.

Community pharmacies remain open in lockdown and can offer a range of medical advice and help for illnesses and injuries.

The current demand on NHS services does mean that we have had to make some temporary changes to the way we work.

Our hospitals are continuing to provide cancer care and other urgent operations and are working hard to continue providing other non-COVID-related treatments where it is safe to do so.

However, some routine, planned operations may be delayed. These decisions are never taken lightly and we are sorry to anyone affected.

Planned home births and the midwife led unit in Eastbourne have also been temporarily paused. The ambulance service is managing significant demand and so this is to ensure that births can continue in the safest way possible at this time. The teams who have been supporting through pregnancy will continue to provide care in hospitals.

We are also having to focus on how people are supported to leave hospital when they are medically ready, and the current demand on services could mean some patients are discharged from hospitals into community settings which may not be their first choice. Our teams are talking to all patients and their families who are affected by this to help and support them in the best way possible.

While services are extremely busy, it is still very important that people seek NHS care if they need it.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday, January 4 2021, the UK is now in a national lockdown. This means you should stay home and only go out for essential reasons.

Seeking medical help and travelling to attend medical appointments are classed as essential activities. We urge you to keep appointments unless you feel unwell, have suspected coronavirus symptoms or have been contacted directly by the NHS to rearrange your appointment time.

The full list of what you can and can’t do is available at www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home.

We encourage people to use the range of services available to them to check out any symptoms of concern, including www.nhs.uk, their local pharmacy, GP practice and NHS111.

People who think they may be having a heart attack, stroke or other emergency should dial 999 or go to A&E.