A new alert is being sounded after the NHS admitted today that it has run out of hospital beds across Sussex and East Surrey.
Officials sounded the new warning after admitting that health services under ‘severe pressure’ following ‘unprecedented levels of demand.’
In a statement, officials say: “The NHS across Sussex and East Surrey is currently experiencing significant pressure, with unprecedented levels of demand for Accident & Emergency services and out-of-hours services – with local hospitals seeing more patients than there are beds for.”
A new appeal has been made for people to stay away from A&E units unless they have life-threatening conditions.
A spokesperson for NHS England said: “With these high levels of demand, the system is under serious pressure and priority is being given to those patients with urgent life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
“We are also urging residents to consider their options before visiting the Emergency Department at any of the county hospitals, which are all currently experiencing extremely high levels of attendance.
“Patients attending A&E with a minor illness are likely to experience a very long wait, with priority being given to those people with serious or life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
“We would like to express our sincere thanks to all NHS staff who are working extremely hard during this difficult and demanding time.”
People who have non-life-threating illnesses or injuries are being urged to seek treatment at Crawley Urgent Care Centre (open 24/7) at Crawley Hospital, or the Minor Injuries Units at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead and Horsham Hospital.
The Crawley Urgent Care Centre also incorporates the urgent GP walk-in service for patients with a minor injury or medical condition that is not life-threatening but needs to be seen, or those who are unable to get an urgent appointment with their GP.
Dr Minesh Patel, NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG clinical lead for urgent care and a Mid Sussex GP, said: “Our minor injuries units and urgent care centre are able to see, diagnose and treat a wide range of minor injuries for both adults and children over one year old - such as minor burns and scalds, wounds, limb injuries and cuts and grazes and more. X-Rays and other tests to diagnose can be done on site.
“Alternatively consider visiting your local pharmacist: friendly, helpful, fully qualified clinicians who can help with much more than you may think. Most pharmacies provide a private consulting room for confidential conversations and there are also a number of late night pharmacies in our area, so you can get help when you need it.”
People suffering a lung disease, kidney or heart disease, diabetes, or other long term health condition, or suffer from breathlessness, are being urged to seek advice from a pharmacist before their condition gets more serious. People are also being advised to get a free flu vaccine.
The NHS provides free flu vaccinations to those over 65 years of age, those with long term conditions, young children and pregnant women. Check if you are eligible here www.nhs.uk/staywell.