The situation in the corridors of the Royal Sussex County Hospital is a grave one as doctors and nurses fight to provide the best care they can.

Now, Dr Andy Heeps, chief operating officer of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, tells The Argus what hospital bosses are doing to combat the crisis.

In The Argus today, you can read the words of some of our staff, who work in the Emergency Department in Brighton.

The Argus: Dr Andy HeepsDr Andy Heeps (Image: University Hospitals Sussex)

We invited The Argus in because we think this is hugely important - as we approach winter, we know that all local NHS and social care services will be under real pressure.

And we also know that no part of the local health service works in isolation. Although A&E is usually where pressures becomes most visible, we all depend upon each other - from GP surgeries, to mental health care, to community services, to ambulances, to hospitals, and social care.

The situation is undoubtedly difficult for everyone, and our staff - who do genuinely incredible things every day - clearly feel frustrated that they can't do more for the people they care for.

I think that everyone knows there is no quick fix, no magic wand to be waved. But that doesn't mean we can't act to meet the needs of patients more effectively, and that is what we are doing as we look to the demands we are likely to face over the winter, and beyond.

Over the coming months as winter demands are likely to grow we will be able to open up extra capacity in our hospitals if necessary, while working with colleagues on medical and surgical wards so they are ready to receive patients from A&E and assessment units from 8am, and then throughout the day.

We will also open a surgical assessment unit in Brighton, which will allow patients who may need unplanned operations to be assessed away from A&E.

The Argus: The Royal Sussex County HospitalThe Royal Sussex County Hospital (Image: Andrew Gardner |The Argus)

Our partners are playing a major role - for example, there are colleagues from other services working directly with our teams to identify and move patients who could be cared for elsewhere, and hubs are being set up across the county to help move people out of hospital more quickly to make room for patients arriving in A&E each day.

Elsewhere there are more targeted initiatives, such as the work to support homeless people who come to us with health needs.

The challenges are significant, but so is the scale of the response, and the commitment of all of our local health and social care partners.

We need that teamwork to help ease pressure in our major hospitals, and create more capacity for the hundreds of patients arriving in our A&E departments every single day, and it is hugely encouraging that everyone is totally focused on how to best use the resources we all have to protect and improve patient care.

Winter is hard for the NHS - everyone knows that, and this year will be no exception. And our staff will need help - both from the organisations they work for, and the public they serve.

If you need emergency care, our A&E teams will tell you the same thing they always say - we're the best place for you, we'll give you the care you need, please come to us.

But if you don't need emergency care, please help to lighten their load, and contact 111 or your GP to discuss who can best look after you. The next few months will be challenging, but we know the issues we face, and we are doing everything we can to protect patient care and support our staff.

Dr Andy Heeps is chief operating officer of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, who run the Royal Sussex County Hospital.