Sussex Resilience Forum declares major incident

A major incident has been declared in Sussex to best respond to unprecedented pressures of Covid-19 on the county. 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 today 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 in 2020 in an earlier phase of the pandemic.

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.”

Covid-19 in Brighton & Hove

In the seven days up to the 31 December there were 1768 new cases in Brighton & Hove.

This is:

  • equivalent to a weekly rate of new cases of 608 per 100,000 residents  
  • an increase of 91% compared to the previous week (318 cases per 100,000)
  • higher than the rate for England (547 per 100,000) and slightly lower than the South East (651 per 100,000)

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Leader of the Council said:

“I welcome the collective decision to declare a major incident across the Sussex region which reflects the seriousness of the situation.

“The new Covid-19 variant is spreading fast and the latest figures from the ONS survey show that roughly 1 in 45 people in the South East have got the virus.

“Declaring a major incident means partner organisations across Sussex will further strengthen efforts to fight this pandemic. 

“I want to thank staff from the council and public services across Brighton & Hove and the wider Sussex region for all that they are doing on the front line to help save lives, support local communities and keep our vital public services going. 

“Thank you as well to residents who are also playing their part, and staying at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.”

Help for residents if you need it

We know this is a worrying time and many residents will have concerns. You can find out more about the services and support available in Brighton & Hove on the council's Covid website.

If you need extra support you can contact our community hub for emergency help with food, energy bills and other essentials.

If you can't get online you can call 01273 293 117 and select option 2. Phone interpreters are available on this number.

Book a test at the first sign of any Covid symptoms

Do not leave home if you or someone you live with has any of the following symptoms – even if very mild:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

You must immediately self-isolate with your household and book a test online or by calling 119.