Waiting lists for NHS hospital treatment in the South East have risen.

In East Sussex, Brighton and Hove Health Authority's catchment area, the number of people waiting to be admitted to NHS hospitals now stands at 18,931.

The figure is 1,374 cases behind the authority's target of 17,557 and compares with a total of 18,322 waiting last month. But in West Sussex the waiting lists have come down.

Health bosses there have 19,800 patients waiting on lists compared with 20,165 when they last compiled their figures in November. The overall number of patients waiting to be admitted to NHS hospitals in the South East now stands at 190,374.

Between November and December 1999, this figure rose by 6,842. The Government is working towards a target of 175,813 people on its waiting lists by March 2000.

The latest waiting list figures come at the end of a particularly busy period which saw hospitals in East and West Sussex stretched to capacity with flu and other winter ailments.

Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes Norman Baker said the overall rise illustrated the depth of ongoing problems within the NHS.

But Health Minister John Denham said the planned reductions in admissions during winter to allow hospitals to tackle flu cases first was partly responsible for the rise.

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