15 December 2023

Sussex health and care partners prepare for Christmas and New Year

Efforts are underway to ensure that people who need urgent medical help and support can receive the care they need during the festive period.

Please make the right choice

All health and care partners in Sussex have been working together since September to develop a robust winter plan which ensures services remain safe and local people can continue to access the best possible care as quickly as possible over the winter months.

However, now additional action is needed to prepare the local NHS for the increased pressure expected to be seen on services during the Christmas and New Year period.

The NHS, like many other services, has seen rising financial pressure and this, combined with the announcement of further industrial action by the junior doctors, means we now need to take additional steps to prioritise the use of our available workforce and ensure services remain safe for our local communities.

These additional steps have been shaped by the national NHS priorities which put a specific focus on protecting patient safety, achieving financial balance and prioritising emergency performance and capacity, while protecting urgent care, high priority elective and cancer care.

We are already seeing high numbers of people needing care and support and increasing numbers needing to be hospitalised for various issues, including respiratory illnesses. This is already putting services under significant pressure and we expect this to increase further as we approach Christmas and into the New Year, coinciding with a reduction in medical workforce due to industrial action.

We are putting in additional measures to help manage this increase in demand, including enhancing support for people to remain at home, increasing virtual ward beds, enhancing urgent community response, maximising home visits out of hours, and a targeted approach to those who regularly use urgent care services, including increased access to care homes with high levels of hospital admissions.

However, it must be recognised that this will be a very challenging period for the NHS and we now need to take further extraordinary action to allow all system partners to use the available workforce in the best possible way to make sure patient safety is not compromised and people can continue to have access to the best possible urgent and emergency care.

This means it will be necessary for some services to be temporarily changed or reduced, to allow staff to be redeployed to other services so they can continue to be safe and of the highest quality. This will ensure appropriate staffing is in place and reduce the dependency on short-term agency staff across our services.

It may also be necessary over the coming weeks for some non-urgent operations, procedures and appointments to be rescheduled to allow us to focus on patients with the most urgent clinical need and utilise all possible capacity across the system.

Even with these measures, health and care partners cannot do this alone. We are asking everyone living across Sussex to Help Us Help You this winter and play their part.

What we need people to do

  • Help Us Help You…make the right choice
    Know the services available to you and use the right one for your needs at the right time.
  • Help Us help You…stay well this winter
    Take responsibility for your own health and wellness, by staying as healthy as possible, looking after yourself and asking for support when you need it.
  • Help Us Help You…by looking out for others
    Look out for your neighbours, relatives and friends to help them stay healthy and seek help if they become ill.
  • Help Us Help You…stay protected
    Get your Covid-19 and flu vaccinations if you are eligible as soon as possible.
  • Help Us Help You…by respecting staff
    Be respectful to health and care staff and remember they are trying to help you and others as quickly as they can.

By committing to these actions, together we will help make sure you and others get the support and care you need this winter.

For more information visit our Help Us Help You webpages: Help Us Help You this winter – Sussex Health and Care (ics.nhs.uk)