This week Sussex Resilience Forum declared a ‘major incident’ in Sussex as emergency services worked out a plan to best respond to the unprecedented pressures that Covid-19 is placing on the county’s resources.
The same decision has been taken by several other local resilience forums in the South East.
The Sussex Resilience Forum (SRF) which co-ordinates and communicates between health, emergency services, local authorities and other partners, agreed to declare the incident from 2pm on Wednesday in response to the high and increasing rate of infection across Sussex and to allow public services to make exceptional preparations for a potentially worsening situation.
A major incident is a recognition of national demand and puts all agencies in Sussex in the best possible position to come together to tackle the virus. It is a well-recognised and rehearsed escalation that can be expected at times of exceptional need – a major incident was also in place during the summer of 2020.
The SRF decision recognised the strong and connected pressures across the entire health and care system, from 999 calls to hospital admissions, clinical treatment, discharge from hospital, community services and provision in care homes.
SRF partners are satisfied that they are currently managing the extra demands on the system but agree that they must now make plans for the likelihood that pressures will increase still further in coming weeks. There is a particular need to continue delivering the programme of vaccination to Sussex residents.
Partners agreed the decision would allow the SRF to step up and strengthen its response still further. This may include making more use of volunteer help, preparing in detail for extra capacity needed across services and considering requests for extra support from national government if necessary
The SRF thanked the vast majority of the public in Sussex who are doing everything they can to help the NHS keep the infection under control. Everyone is asked to follow the Covid rules and protect each other; stay at home wherever possible, wash your hands regularly, keep your distance from people you don’t live with and if you develop symptoms, self-isolate immediately and book a test.
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Miller, from the Sussex Resilience Forum, said: “Our focus, as ever, is on working together to protect people in Sussex in every way we can. The pressures on the whole system of health and social care are facing this winter are unprecedented and while our services are managing, we know that challenges are only likely to increase in the short term.
“By declaring a major incident, we can put ourselves on the strongest possible footing to combine our efforts and resources to keep people and public services in the best possible health.”