PERFORMANCE: Surrey and Sussex Healthcare experienced significant pressure on its accident and emergency unit during the last two weeks of July, resulting in patients being diverted to other trusts.

In a statement dated 29 July, trust chief executive Michael Wilson said: “These last two weeks have been very challenging ones for the trust with large numbers of patients coming to our emergency department. So much so that on occasion we have only been able to accept seriously ill patients brought in under blue lights.

“This is obviously not a great experience for our patients and creates a stressful working environment for our staff. I would like to pay tribute to our staff as I have seen some brilliant examples of teams pulling together and going above and beyond to provide the best patient care they can.”

He added that plans were in place to improve the emergency department and a range of changes would eventually be made to increase its size.

Mr Wilson said: “By Christmas 2011, the flow of patients through the department will be enhanced, and the observation bed area will be fully compliant with single-sex accommodation.

“We are also working with our primary care trust partners to identify additional capacity as quickly as we can. In the meantime we must continue to work with our health partners to ensure the provision of safe, high quality care for our patients.”