Nurses fear patients could die as the accident and emergency crisis deepens.

Describing the “worst working week of their lives”, nurses at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton have raised concerns they are no longer able to properly care for patients because of overcrowding and understaffing at the hospital.

Royal Sussex nurses have said they fear they are unable to provide a good quality of care to patients.

The hospital has now been suffering from an overcrowding crisis for four weeks.

Teresa Budrey, the Royal College of Nursing’s Sussex officer, said A&E nurses had told her they were extremely concerned.

She said: “They want to raise this now before it gets to the point where patients are dying.

“That is not what is happening yet, but clearly that is the potential. They are the people who meet the patients and they want people to know they are doing everything they can.”

Lengthy queues

Nurses have reported queues of up to 13 patients waiting to be moved on to wards causing a backlog in the casualty department.

She added that while many hospitals across the region had been suffering severe delays, the Royal Sussex was the worst hit as it is the county’s major trauma centre.

She added: “Staff members are feeling stressed out and undervalued. They are desperately trying to deliver good care in difficult and challenging circumstances.”

The hospital recognised that nurses were struggling to deal with a “difficult and challenging period” and were under “acute pressure”.

Increasing staff numbers

Sherree Fagge, chief nurse at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, said: “I am well aware of how hard this has been for our nurses and the enormous impact on them of working under such pressure for such a prolonged period of time.

“We are doing everything we can to support the whole team including investing £500,000 to increase the number of nurses in our emergency departments which we are doing as quickly as possible.”

The hospital first declared a “major incident” after becoming overrun with patients on February 20. The crisis was then downgraded to the second highest level “purple alert” on February 22 – where it remained until Monday with hospital bosses saying there was no end in sight to the crisis.

On Monday, March 11 the hospital once again declared a “major incident” – diverting ambulances to other centres in a desperate bid to cope.

Cancelled leave

A spokeswoman said yesterday (March 13) its status had now been downgraded once again to purple, with all non-emergency operations and staff leave having been cancelled.

The city’s MPs said they had been seeking answers to the cause of the crisis.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said she had requested an urgent meeting with chief executive of the hospital trust Matthew Kershaw, interim chief executive Chris Adcock and chairman of the board of directors Julian Lee, about the “incredibly concerning ” situation.

Kemptown MP Simon Kirby said: “Whilst the Government’s huge investment of £400 million in the NHS in Brighton will ensure high quality facilities and care in the future, clearly the reports of the current situation are concerning.”

Chairman's silence

Hove MP Mike Weatherley said: “The recent spike in admissions needs to be pinpointed and, indeed, dealt with.”

The Argus has repeatedly requested to speak to chairman Julian Lee about what is being done to address the situation but our requests have so far been unsuccessful.

The RCN is urging nurses to report any problems by calling 0345 7726100.

Tell The Argus your experience

Are you a nurse at Royal Sussex County Hospital? The Argus would like to hear from you about the impact of the crisis on members of staff.

Call the newsdesk on 01273 544512 or email

Have you been a patient at Royal Sussex County Hospital during the crisis? The Argus would like to hear from you about your experiences of waiting times and how you have seen staff cope?

Call the newsdesk  or email

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