A&E upgrade for Brighton hospital as new team take over

Royal Sussex County Hospital (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)
Royal Sussex County Hospital (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)

The Royal Sussex County Hospital is set to benefit from new emergency unit, with the aim of reducing accident and emergency (A&E) waiting times and improving the quality and safety of urgent care.

The trust which runs the hospital - and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath - is to benefit from up to £30 million to improve emergency care facilities, as a new leadership team takes over.

Marianne Griffiths will take the helm of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, alongside her role at the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Marianne Griffiths will take the helm of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, alongside her role at the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Improvement works at Brighton’s A&E department began this week, and will continue until September. The upgrade will add four extra treatment areas and two additional triage spaces to the Urgent Care Centre.

The core staff area is set be moved into the middle of the Urgent Care Centre giving staff easier access to patients and bringing equipment ‘into the heart of the centre’. Works to the main entrance are also set to improve the flow of patients and staff around the department.

This comes as the chairman, chief executive and executive directors of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WSHFT) - which runs hospitals in Worthing and Chichester - are to take on the leadership of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUH) for a minimum of three years beginning on Saturday (April 1).

NHS Improvement called the move a ‘buddying up’ scheme, where the West Sussex Trust which runs two ‘outstanding’ hospitals can help BSUH to improve.

Royal Sussex County Hospital (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)

Royal Sussex County Hospital (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)

It follows last year’s inspection of BSUH by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which found it to be ‘inadequate’, and The Royal Sussex County Hospital was placed in special measures.

The new executive team will aim to deliver a new A&E improvement plan, move the trust out of special measures, progress the ‘3Ts’ hospital redevelopment and build a new organisational culture ‘that can sustain improvement beyond the initial period of collaboration’.

Marianne Griffiths, chief executive of WSHFT, said: “The challenges faced by staff at BSUH have been well documented and there are no easy solutions to them.

“However, I have been hugely impressed by the welcome and openness extended to us by everyone we have met in Brighton and Haywards Heath so far and I have seen enough examples of excellent care to feel that together we can bring about the improvements everyone wants to see.”

Evelyn Barker, BSUH chief accountable officer will move into a new role as the organisation’s managing director, providing ‘continuity of leadership’.

She said: “Marianne and her team have been very clear that the improvements made by Western Sussex Hospitals over the last few years have been achieved by giving frontline staff the freedom to make the changes they know will make the biggest difference to patient care, and they are committed to creating a similar environment here.”

Anne Eden, executive managing director for NHS Improvement south, said: “This new arrangement is the culmination of much hard work by the leadership teams of both trusts, who have been determined to do the right thing for local patients. Working with Western Sussex Hospitals, and with ongoing support from NHS Improvement, I am confident that BSUH has the best possible support to make the necessary, sustainable improvements that will enable them to provide the quality of services patients expect from the NHS.”

The WSHFT Board approved the agreement between the two healthcare trusts after a full impact assessment satisfied its members that performance at the trust, which is one of only five acute hospital providers in England to hold the CQC’s highest-possible ‘outstanding’ rating, would not be compromised.

Ms Griffiths said: “We’ve known from the outset that helping our neighbour is the right thing to do, but we have spent a lot of time over the last four months making sure it is an achievable thing to do, not just in terms of helping BSUH improve but doing so while continuing to build on the progress we have made at Western Sussex too.

“To be certain we can do that, we will be strengthening the leadership team within the trust and prioritising the three things we think will have the greatest influence on the future of our services – monitoring and maintaining our CQC standards, expanding our Patient First improvement programme and supporting the development of the Coastal West Sussex Accountable Care Organisation (ACO).”