SUSSEX’S busiest hospital has declared a critical incident as all of its beds are full.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton yesterday informed staff that they were dealing with a “critical incident” meaning the hospital has exceeded capacity.

Some operations and clinics will be cancelled and patients advised to only attend accident and emergency if really necessary.

Patients were urged to seek medical help from the 111 service, walk in centres and pharmacies were possible as South East Coast Ambulance Service urged “only call us of it is a serious or life threatening emergency.”

The hospital has been struggling to cope at more than 97% capacity for the past month and said that the last week’s extreme cold weather had forced more patients through their doors leaving them unable to cope.

A spokesman for the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust - which also runs the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath - which has been placed in the same status said: “We are always open for patients who are seriously ill, our staff are working extremely hard to ensure every patient is treated safely and as quickly as possible.

“We would ask people to think about the care they need and use an alternative if possible, such as talking to their pharmacist, calling NHS 111 or using the NHS walk-in centre at Brighton Station.

“We’ve been extremely busy over the weekend, which comes on the back of being really busy over the past month.

“We had a lot of wrist injuries when it was icy. But four-five days after the start of a cold spell, we get a surge in seriously ill patients.

“To ensure we have more staff on the front line treating patients here already, we’ve cancelled all meetings, cancelled some clinics and operations and are working doubly hard to ensure we can discharged patients who are well enough to leave and have patients seen by speciality doctors as they come in the front door, so we can treat and discharge patients who don’t need to be admitted onto a ward. “

The hospital had been functioning in a state of “business continuity” - one level down from a critical incident for a number of days.

The ambulance service added that they were unable to divert patients to other hospitals - as the whole region was suffering with extremely busy hospitals.

A spokesman for Secamb said: “We are not diverting ambulances quite simply because every one else is also very busy.

“We are saying to people please help us to help you and think about whether you really need it before dialling 999.

“Only call us if it is a serious of life threatening emergency.”

Over the coming days the hospital will be working with social care providers to move patients back into the community.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital was placed in special measures in April 2016 after inspectors rated it inadequate.

Senior managers from Western Sussex Hospitals were drafted in to take over running the hospital.

Inspections last August found they had made significant improvements, but still required improvement to come out of special measures.

Last April the hospital ended the financial year £68million in the red -

more than four times higher than the £15.6m originally planned.

In 2016 the trust was placed in financial special measures because of concerns about its spiralling money difficulties.


HOSPITAL staff have been run off their feet for months and are struggling to cope.

A member of nursing staff told The Argus: “We are rushed off our feet all of the time.

“We simply don’t have enough staff.

“There are something like 260 nursing vacancies at the hospital at the moment.

“When you go into A&E it is scary how many patients each member or staff is dealing with.

“There is some serious mismanagement from a government level for a long time.

“It is not just nursing staff but staff overall

“From my point of view this isn’t just a local issue, this is going on everywhere.

“Jeremy Hunt was in the hospital just a couple of weeks ago, but there is no strategy for dealing with this.

“In addition to the difficulties we are facing we have a lot of people come into A&E unnecessary, when it is not really an emergency. “

Another member of hospital staff described lengthy queues in accident and emergency yesterday.

Mark Sargent from public service union Unison said: “The biggest problem is bed pressures and often there isn’t the staff to staff those beds.

“We have been in a situation of business continuity, but at 12.30pm a notice was sent to staff to tell them this had been upgraded to a critical incident.

“The pressure on the NHS are serious.