PLANS to close two hospital wards are on hold due to increased demand during the heatwave.

Health bosses wanted to shut two wards – Seaford 4 at Eastbourne District General and Benson at the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards.

But the recent hot weather has meant a huge rise in people needing hospital care.

Trust chief executive Dr Adrian Bull said: “We are seeing a very serious pressure on emergency care and our inpatient wards because of the heatwave.

“We know we are not alone in that.

“All hospitals around us are under serious pressure as well.

“We are seeing levels of demand which you would normally only see in a winter crisis.

“The effects of the heatwave are particular inpatients with heart failure and pre-existing conditions.

“Even our children’s wards have seen children coming in with an infection which is normally only a winter infection for children.”

Earlier this year East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust planned to reduce its number of beds by 75 to make “more efficient use of its resources”.

But it said Seaford 4 and Benson wards would become escalation wards, reopening during winter and other times of high demand.

But at a meeting of the trust’s board on Tuesday, chief executive Dr Adrian Bull said the wards had not yet been closed due to the increased demand during the recent hot weather.

Dr Bull said the move to close wards would be possible due to care improvements meaning patients typically spend less time in hospital for treatment than before.

Chief operating officer Joe Chadwick-Bell told the Board meeting bed occupancy had been falling before July.

He said: “We have been coming into mornings and weekend with the Conquest potentially having 80 or 90 empty beds – which is just unheard of – and with Eastbourne having something around 30 or 40.   “The July heatwave has changed that with generally very few empty beds.”