13 January 2021

East Sussex Medical Director urges the public to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives

Our Medical Director, Dr David Walker is calling on East Sussex communities to adhere to the new lockdown guidance as Covid-19 cases continue to increase in East Sussex.

He is reminding people how important it is that as a community we work together, like we did during the first wave, to drive down infection rates locally.

The increase in cases in East Sussex is having a clear impact on NHS services and is putting huge pressure on our services and staff. The Trust has:

  • around five times the number of Covid-19 positive inpatients that it had at the height of the first wave.
  • around half of its beds occupied by Covid-19 positive patients
  • made some important changes to the services it provides to make sure we continue to care for those who most need it and to keep patients and staff safe.

David Walker, Medical Director said: “I am personally urging each and every one of our local residents to stick to the lockdown rules or we risk overwhelming our local NHS services. We have seen a significant increase in Covid-19 positive patients in our hospitals over the last month, which reflects the increase in cases in East Sussex.

“The scale of the challenge we face locally is big, but not impossible. We need to work together as a community again – as we did last year to: Stay and home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives. It will take all of our efforts to combat this virus.

“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.

“You can also 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.”

The Trust has had to make a number of changes to make sure it can continue to provide care to those who most need it and to keep patients and staff safe:

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic we have increased critical care and overall bed capacity, for example we have converted surgical wards into medical wards to support more patients
  • We are increasing recruitment both temporary and permanent and inviting people who have left the NHS to come back and take on important roles
  • Members of staff with clinical experience are putting on uniforms and non-clinical members of staff are being redeployed to help support other core patient services
  • We have made the very difficult decision to reschedule some routine operations – to allow us to focus on caring for Covid-19 patients, emergency care, cancer care and diagnostics
  • We have also made the tough decision to temporarily suspend home births and births at our midwife-led unit, because we cannot be assured about timely ambulance response times in an emergency. All births will now be at Conquest Hospital and the team have worked really hard to make changes there so that women get an experience as close as possible to the one they were expecting
  • Where possible we are moving outpatient services online and allowing for virtual or telephone appointments
  • We have opened two vaccination hubs at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH which are vaccinating frontline health and care staff across East Susses as part of a Sussex-wide vaccination programme.