Hospitals across Sussex are bracing themselves for an expected rush of patients over the next month.

January is traditionally a busy period with dozens of patients having operations cancelled or waiting a long time in accident and emergency departments while staff struggle to cope with demand for urgent treatment.

The county's three main hospitals in Brighton, Worthing, and Eastbourne are coping at the moment but are expecting things to get worse before they get better.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton experienced a busy holiday period with an unexpected number of new-born babies needing specialist care.

The Trevor Mann intensive care unit for babies at the hospital was full on New Year's Eve.

About 210 people arrived at the hospital's accident and emergency department on New Year's Eve, well above the usual number of 140 to 150.

A spokesman said: "We were able to keep beds open and staffed - but the busiest time is yet to come."

Worthing Hospital reported a busy Christmas and New Year but had no major problems.

The busiest day was December 27 when the hospital's accident and emergency unit had 85 arrivals.

A spokesman said: "This was double the amount we would generally have on a normal day.

"Most people tend to wait over Christmas and Boxing day and then come in after that.

"Since the weather got colder recently we had an increase in the number of broken bones and sprains which kept us busy."

Eastbourne District General Hospital has dealt with more than 100 medical emergencies in the last three days. A spokesman said they were mainly due to an increase in accidents because of the cold spell.