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Sussex nurses warn about A&E overcrowding

Nurses working in the emergency department at Royal Sussex County Hospital have raised concerns patient care is suffering due to overcrowding and understaffing.

A number of nurses contacted their local Royal College of Nursing branch after the hospital declared a major incident on Monday and ambulances were advised to divert to other departments.

Latest figures from the Department of Health show during the week beginning 3 March just 83.3% of patients were admitted or treated and discharged within four hours, in line with the national target.

Sussex RCN officer Teresa Budrey said staff members were feeling “stressed out and undervalued”.

She added: “They are desperately trying to deliver good care in difficult and challenging circumstances. There have been up to 13 patients waiting to be placed at one time, although they have all had access to triage support from a senior nurse, and the ambulance service.

“We understand the pressure on A&E is caused by a number of factors, not all of which can be helped, but we are deeply concerned by this situation. We are pressing managers at the hospital to resolve this situation in the interests of both patients and staff.”

In response chief nurse of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, Sheree Fagge, said the trust was doing “all it can” to resolve the pressure the emergency department was under including investing £500,000 in recruitment of more nurses.

Ms Faggee said the trust had also been running a campaign to ensure patients used A&E appropriately but more alternative health and social care facilities were needed in the community.

She added: “I am also well aware of how hard this has been for our nurses and the enormous impact on them of working under such pressure for such a prolonged period of time.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • Apart from the urgent admissions, how many are inappropriate and how many are readmissions caused by lack of investment in community services, early discharges and pressures for bed spaces elsewhere. £500k is much needed but sounds like a short term fix, and after recruitment, training / induction costs there won't be much change left.
    Admission rates everywhere around the country is rising. Is there a link between this and the austerity measures in place?

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  • Totally agree with you Andy. All over the NHS we are seeing this, what they don't understand ( the policy makers)is that patients are older, frailer, we are expected to discharge earlier, admit on the day etc etc in order to assist 4 hour access targets etc, patients have more than one condition that causes problems, junior doctors do not be the skills overall to manage the speciality patient in ED.
    Well done to the nurses for raising there concerns over it, shame about the first aid as a plaster to cover the issue by the chief nurse. Without being cynical be grateful it s only 13 patients waiting unlike my trust where it is more likely to be 30, it makes you feel very sad to be part of it.my trust and staff are not inefficient, do care about our patients and the wait in ED but systems just can't cope.

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  • Thats ....Thirteen patients waiting in the back of ambulances outside the ED front door. If you can fit 30 ambulances in your ED car park.... Your Trust has some land!

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  • the article and above comments demonstrate a lack of joined up thinking on the part of the policy makers. If other services are inadequate why is there surprise about A&E overcrowding?

    If you pour too much water into one glass because you refuse to dirty any more, what happens?

    if you pump too much air into a confined and non-expandable space the container will explode, according to my logic and experience!

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  • A&E overcrowding is a national issue, not just in Sussex. My hospital's A&E department recently hit the headlines in the local press when 17 ambulances where waiting to handover patients. It's a case of too many coming in one door and not enough going out of the other.

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  • Brian Emeney | 21-Mar-2013 4:12 am

    the PM should be summoned each time this happens to get his advice on what to do about it. It shouldn't be the tax paying patients or any others presenting in a medical emergency who should be kept waiting.

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