PERFORMANCE: 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 chief nurse 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.”