A BUMPER one-off grant of £2.3 million has been given to the local NHS to try and help the Conquest Accident and Emergency department weather the annual seasonal spike in demand.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has been given the cash by the Government ahead of the busy winter period in the hope it can be used to relieve the pressure on its busy A&E departments.
Both the Conquest and its sister site in Eastbourne (the DGH) will benefit from the financial support although the money will not necessarily be earmarked for extra A&E resources.
Instead some could be used to prop up other local health services in an effort to reduce the number of people needing to visit A&E in the first place.
The health war chest comes to East Sussex amid fears nationally that cutbacks on frontline social services and support schemes is leading to a drastic increase in the number of elderly or vulnerable people needing hospital care.
Some critics have dismissed the bonus payments as an attempt to paper over the cracks of widespread cutbacks across the country.
However, a spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which has experienced financial problems of its own in recent years, said the money was very welcome.
He said: “We are pleased with the announcement that East Sussex has been awarded £2.3 million to reduce pressure on A&E’s in the county over the winter period.
“This money will be used to prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital and reduce waiting times for patients admitted to A&E.”
He added: “Within East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust we aim to use this additional resource to further improve staffing levels in A&E and reduce the patients’ length of stay in hospital following admission.”