Last updated: 5th January 2021

At Healthwatch we are aware that many people have questions about COVID-19, the Lockdown restrictions and changes to services.

To help, we have identified the questions we receive most often and provided answers to these below. 

This information has been collated from various sources and is accurate as at the time and date of publication. Please note that updates to services may happen regularly and therefore answers to some questions may change regularly. This material will be changed to reflect these.

If you have a health or care question and this doesn’t appear below, or you would like further information or support then we are here to help.  

Please contact us via our Information and Signposting service

Please ring:  0333 101 4007 or email:

You may also like to visit our Feedback Centre where we invite you to rate and comment on any health or social care service that you have used

Health and Social Care

GP’s are still making referrals and you should not delay contacting your GP if you have health concerns. Cancer referrals are still being made.

Patients can still make appointments with a Doctor, Nurse, Healthcare Assistant or Social Prescriber.

In the first instance please visit your GP practice website for more information or call them for more advice.

GPs are making alternative arrangements for certain groups of patients, such as the deaf community, people with learning difficulties, people whose first language is not English and people who do not have access to the telephone.

Please do not visit your GP if you have symptoms of coronavirus i.e. new continuous cough, high temperature and anosmia (loss of taste and smell).

If you have any of the above please follow the current NHS advice.

Advice and guidance on illnesses and medical conditions is available from NHS111 Online.

A new Video Relay Service (VRS), has gone live in all GP practices and offers telephone consultations to British Sign Language (BSL) users. This service was launched by the East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)to offer our deaf community access to book appointments and have telephone consultations without the need for support from friends or family through a service that provides signing and support. see press release April 2020

Any call made from the community directory is free for Deaf people.

SignLive is a free to download App, available on the Android play store and Apple store. To access the service

  1. Download the SignLive app
  2. Register your details
  3. Select your GP practice from the list and you will be connected to an interpreter before the call is connected

Community pharmacies are open although hours may be different to normal.

Please do not visit a pharmacy if you have symptoms of coronavirus i.e. a new continuous cough and/or high temperature. If you have these please follow the current NHS advice.

If you have no coronavirus symptoms, only visit your pharmacy if it is absolutely essential to do so and observe ‘social distancing’ at all times by keeping 2 meters from other people. Most people should continue to collect their medicines in the normal way.

The Government advise those considered vulnerable and ‘shielding’ but need to collect prescription medicines to do the following:

  • In the first instance, vulnerable patients are asked to have their medicines collected by a family member, friend or neighbour
  • If no-one can help collect prescriptions, vulnerable patients will be able to ask for support from their local Community hubs. Volunteers will be ID-checked and may be able to collect your prescription medicines.
  • In cases where the above help is not sufficient, a Medicines Delivery Service in community pharmacies will ensure that patients, for whom the above two options are not applicable, are able to receive their prescription medicines when they need them

Healthwatch have designed a poster with guidance on how to safely collect medicines on behalf of someone.

Yes, repeat prescriptions are still available as usual. It is important people only request medicines when they are running low (e.g. one week’s supply left).

Patients are being encouraged to order their repeat prescriptions online directly from their GP practice via the practice website or through the NHS App wherever possible, or using Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) phone service if this is available with their GP practice.

This will speed up the process for repeat prescriptions to be issued. It can take between 5 and 7 days from ordering a repeat prescription from a GP to it being ready to collect at the pharmacy. Patients are urged to plan in advance so that they don’t run out.

Please be aware that both GPs and Pharmacies remain particularly busy at this time, so do be patient.

At present, there is no move to increase the duration of prescriptions.

All dental practices are open though treatment available may vary due to staff or physical limitations. You should continue to attend booked dental appointments unless you are contacted by your surgery.

Where NHS capacity is used up practices may offer appointments privately.

Any practices that have NHS capacity are expected to provide advice over the telephone, including pain relief advice and issuing a prescription for antibiotics if clinically indicated. If a patient needs to be seen face to face then they will fit them in where possible.

It is important that patients who have an urgent need stress this to practices they call. They should not ask whether a practice is “taking on” NHS patients as this may be misunderstood to mean the patient is seeking routine care.

Priority order in which practices must see patients:

  1. Those requiring urgent care
  2. Patients at higher risk of oral disease
  3. Patients with outstanding treatment needs that cannot be delayed
  4. Routine care, only when all of the above is under control

Strict infection prevention and control procedures are in place at all practices:

  • Enhanced level of PPE worn for some treatments
  • Dental surgeries to remain empty (fallow time) following some procedures to allow droplets in the air to settle prior to cleaning
  • Physical distancing in waiting rooms
  • One way systems where possible
  • No signing of medical or treatment forms

If you are in pain or have facial swelling and a dental practice is unable to accommodate a free telephone consultation, contact NHS 111.

For more information or help in finding a dentist, call the NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233 or Dental Helpline 0300 123 1663

If you have a dental emergency, you should contact a dental practice for a telephone assessment to assess your dental needs. This could either be the dental practice you normally attend or you can search for an NHS practice nearest to your home address on the NHS website at search for a dentist near you.

It is important that patients who have an urgent need stress this to practices they call. They should not ask whether a practice is “taking on” NHS patients as this may be misunderstood to mean the patient is seeking routine care.

Priority order in which practices must see patients:

  1. Those requiring urgent care
  2. Patients at higher risk of oral disease
  3. Patients with outstanding treatment needs that cannot be delayed
  4. Routine care, only when all of the above is under control

If you are experiencing pain or facial swelling and are unable to access a dental practice, contact NHS111 Online or call 111. Out of usual surgery hours, you should also use the NHS 111 service.

The East Sussex Emergency NHS Dental Service offers out-of-hours temporary urgent treatment to patients who reside in East Sussex.

Do not contact a GP as they are unable to help with out of hours or emergency dental care.

The government has advised the clinically extremely vulnerable to begin shielding again. On 4th January 2021, the prime minister confirmed that letters would be sent to the clinically extremely vulnerable.

Food and medicine boxes facilitated by the National Shielding Service will stop as of 1 August.

Other forms of support – such as priority supermarket delivery slots and the NHS Volunteers Scheme – will continue.

Useful links for current information:-

Government guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV)

Get support if you are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV)

Advice on face coverings and social distancing measures

Eastbourne District General Hospital and Conquest Hospital are open and providing safe, high quality, urgent and emergency care services for those people that need them. Patients are able to attend these hospitals as normal, unless advised otherwise.

If you have a scheduled appointment and have not been advised to self isolate by NHS 111, please attend as normal. If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, please contact the hospital to rearrange your appointment.

Please consider whether it is absolutely necessary to bring family or friends with you.

Some operations and appointments are being rescheduled. If this is the case, you will be contacted. If you are not contacted, you should attend as normal.

Some outpatient appointments are now being offered as video appointments to avoid the need to travel. If you are unable to attend a video appointment, call the number on your original appointment letter to advise.

Appointments at the Eastbourne and Conquest District General Hospitals

If you have an appointment booked at either the EDGH or Conquest the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) has advised to check your appointment before you leave home.

If for any other reason you need to cancel or change your appointment, then please do contact their Appointment Centre via:

(01424) 758044
Monday to Friday – 8.00am to 6.00pm
Saturday – 9.00am to 12noon

The latest advice on appointments is available on the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust website.

Appointments at the Royal Sussex County Hospital

 If for any other reason you need to cancel or change your appointment, then please do contact their Bookings Centre via:

0300 303 8360

 The latest advice on appointments is available on the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trusts website.

Earlier into the pandemic Dr David Walker (Medical Director at East Sussex Hospitals Trust) had issued the following video message  identifying their concerns and the safeguards they have put in place for Covid-19 and information about the local acute hospitals at the Conquest  and EDGH  and the community hospitals at RyeBexhill and Uckfield. This remains under constant review.

A number of precautions have been put in place to keep patients safe, including:

  • Separate streams in the Emergency Department for possible Covid-19 patients and non Covid-19 patients and separate wards for the non Covid-19 patients to prevent cross-infection.
  • The location of some services so that patients can access them directly without coming through the main hospital
  • More and more outpatient appointments are taking place over the phone or via video call

Members of staff are wearing appropriate protective equipment to reduce spread of infection

Hospitals in East Sussex (Eastbourne and Conquest District General Hospitals) and Brighton and Hove (Royal Sussex County Hospital) have visiting restrictions

Anyone travelling any distance to make a visit is encouraged to check the restrictions on visiting before setting off.

Friends and family are encouraged to use a phone or video call to keep in touch with loved ones in hospital. To complement this they have also launched a service to ‘Send a message to a loved one’ using a virtual post box.

Useful links for visiting hospitals:

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (Eastbourne DGH and Conquest)

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust website

Government advice on face coverings to include hospitals

 Our two acute hospitals are open and are still providing safe, high quality, urgent and emergency care services for those people that need them.

Precautions have been put in place to keep patients safe, including separate streams in the Emergency Department for possible Covid-19 patients and non Covid-19 patients and separate wards for the non Covid-19 patients to prevent cross-infection.

Please do not visit the Emergency departments at any hospital to seek treatment for basic symptoms of Coronavirus (raised temperature and/or new persistent cough).

 If you have any Coronavirus symptoms then please follow Public Health England advice.

Advice and guidance on illnesses and medical conditions is available from NHS111 Online.

 Visits to Emergency department continue to be for genuine life-threatening emergencies, such as:

New guidance has been published for making arrangements for limited visits for care homes with the support of their director of public health. It sets out:

  • the principles of a local approach to visiting arrangements and dynamic risk assessment;
  • guidance for providers establishing their visiting policy;
  • guidance for providers taking decisions on visiting for particular residents or groups of residents;
  • infection control precautions; and
  • communicating with relatives and others about the visiting policy and visiting decisions.

East Sussex Healthcare Trust made changes in response to Covid-19.

ESHT have confirmed that they are restarting support for home births in East Sussex, with immediate effect, and Eastbourne Midwifery Unit will be re-open from Monday 8 February 2021. This follows a temporary suspension of home birth support and a temporary period of closure for EMU which were due to pressures on the South East Coast Ambulance Service.

Currently, only one person can accompany you to your antenatal clinic appointments, midwife appointments and obstetric ultrasound scans.

For further details and information videos visit

For pregnancy concerns contact the Triage Helpline Number: 01323 413771

The Government and the NHS have both confirmed that cancer treatment should continue to be prioritised during this time. It is important to continue to seek help for new and ongoing issues.

If you notice a change that is not normal for you or if you have any possible signs and symptoms of cancer you should still contact your doctor.

Please continue to contact your GP or cancer specialist if you are due to go to a hospital appointment for latest advice and guidance.

East Sussex Healthcare Trust have made changes in response to Covid-19.

Services have been told to reduce contact to maximise the safety of patients with cancer whilst protecting patients and staff from infection.

Chemotherapy and infusion care has temporarily moved to East Sussex College in Eastbourne with the aim to safely deliver treatment to cancer patients away from the main hospital.

Cancer Research UK have a page on coronavirus and different treatment types

You may also like to contact the Cancer Research UK Nurses if you would like to speak to someone.

Tel. 0808 800 4040 (Freephone)

Lines are open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Non-emergency Patient Transport services are still operating. If you qualify for this service, Sussex patients’ first journey must be booked by a healthcare professional or by calling the Central Booking Line using the below details:

  • Central Booking Line 0300 123 9841 between 07:00 – 20:00 Monday to Saturday (08:00 – 17:00 Sundays and Bank Holidays)
  •  Patient Transport Service Cancellation Line 0300 790 0143 available 24/7 365 days a year

You can access further information about Patient Transport online here.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Many mental health issues are common and treatable. There are some steps you may be able to follow yourself, as well as help available from others to support you.

The national mental health charity MIND has developed advice to help people in dealing with pressures brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you suspect you are showing signs of mental ill-health, support may be obtained from your GP. If you are over 18 and registered with a GP in East Sussex (not including Brighton and Hove) you can self-refer to receive support for mild to moderate stress, anxiety or low mood from Health in Mind.

If you or someone you care for is exhibiting any mental ill-health symptoms or has any concerns then you can go to or call 111.

Sussex Partnerhsip NHS Trust  has introduced a number of changes to ensure that people with mental health conditions continue to receive the support they need as we respond to Covid-19.

To access the Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) e-wellbeing website offering support for children and young people’s mental health visit

The 24/7 Sussex Mental Healthline 0800 0309 500 supports people of all ages with mental health concerns and referrals to a rapid assessment hub where required.

Most face-to-face services and support groups are on hold during the coronavirus outbreak but you can get online and phone support from many groups and services.

Southdown Services provide a wide range of care and support for vulnerable people in Sussex.

Wellbeing Centres provide services for adults ages 16+ living in East Sussex experiencing issues affecting their mental health and wellbeing. There are 7 centres providing telephone supportto clients as well asvirtual client groups/drop-ins. For information on how to refer visit their website. 

Eastbourne Wellbeing Centre

Phone: 01323 405330 | Email: I Facebook

8 Saffrons Road, Eastbourne, BN21 1DG (mail is being checked every Wednesday).

Hastings/ St. Leonards Wellbeing Centre

Phone: 01424 435472 Email: I Facebook

Carisbrooke House, Stockleigh Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN38 0JP

Newhaven Wellbeing Centre

Phone: 01273 517641 | Email:  I Facebook

Summerhayes, Marshall Lane, Newhaven, East Sussex, BN9 9RB

Bexhill Wellbeing Centre

Phone: 01424 215548 I Email: I Facebook

73a London Road, Bexhill- on- Sea, TN39 3LB

Hailsham Wellbeing Centre

Phone: 01323 442706 I Email: I Facebook

Prospects House, 7-9 George Street Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 1AD (mail is being checked every Wednesday).

Lewes Wellbeing Centre

Phone: 01273 472453 I Email: I Facebook

47a Western Road, Lewes, BN7 1RL

Uckfield Wellbeing Centre (Crowborough Outreach Service)

Phone: 01825 760684 I Email: I Facebook

Bellbrook Centre, Bell Lane, Uckfield, TN22 1QL

Peer Support Service providing telephone support only until further notice. Peer support specialists have their own lived experience of mental health challenges. They provide a listening ear and work with individuals to develop wellness plans. Peer Support Service

Staying Well Service – provides out of hours recovery focused support for individuals (aged 16+ &living in East Sussex) with urgent mental health support needs.

Hastings Staying Well

6pm-10.30pm on weekdays and 3pm – 10.30pm on weekends.

Eastbourne Staying Well

4pm – 10.30pm on weekdays and 3pm – 10.30pm on weekends Staying Well

Other services include Thinking Well Service which offers dedicated support for people with Personality Disorder and Community Connectors offering support to individuals to improve their own health and wellbeing by developing personalised and practical solutions to every day issues following the Social Prescribing pathway. See website for more details.

Health In Mind

Health in Mind is a free NHS service for anyone in East Sussex experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties such as stress, anxiety and depression.

Please see the referral form online Referral form for Health In Mind

SCDA Counselling Service

The counselling service at SCDA is still running and providing affordable counselling support for people at risk of suicide via phone or video calls.

Contact for enquiries –

Mia on 01273 519108

Email  Or

For support service call the above number or email

Other Useful Helplines for Support

NHS England suggested helplines for support and someone to talk to:

NHS Mental Health Helplines

Looking after your mental wellbeing while staying at home (Every mind matters and NHS England)

Every Mind Matters – Staying at home healthy tips

 Your mental health -what you can do and where to find support (Healthwatch England):

Healthwatch England – Advice and Support

The Government has provided advice  for parents and carers on looking after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Children’s Commissioner has created a children’s guide to coronavirus to help explain the situation to children. It aims to answer their questions, tell them how to stay safe and protect other people, and how to help them make the best of their time at home.

e-wellbeing is a recently launched digital wellbeing service for young people. This service aims to offer support for emotional health and wellbeing.

ThinkNinja is an app specifically designed to educate 10-18 year olds about mental health, emotional wellbeing and to provide skills young people can use to build resilience and to fulfil their potential.

As a direct response to the Covid-19 crisis, ThinkNinja has been updated with specific Covid-19 content bringing self-help knowledge and skills to children and young people who may be experiencing increased anxiety and stress during the crisis.

Young Minds are the UK’s leading charity helping support children and young people’s mental health. There are many useful resources available to download to help promote good mental health and wellbeing.

i-Rock is currently providing virtual emotional and mental wellbeing support for 14-25 year olds living in East Sussex. The service continues to offer an 11-6pm provision daily through virtual clinic software, telephone or email.

Young people interested in accessing support should please make an initial enquiry by email to :-

E-motion counselling  – free online counselling to young people aged 12-18 years old living in East Sussex.

Research shows that self-help tools are often enough for people to overcome mild to moderate mental health difficulties without professional support.

The Wellness Society have developed a Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook which you or your family members may find useful. This document is un-copyrighted by its owner so can be shared freely.

available in pdf.

Psychology Tools provide a number of free psychological self-help guides for the public to include:-

A guide to living with Worry and Anxiety amidst global uncertainty

Call the emergency services

If you are concerned about an immediate risk of harm – either to yourself or someone else – phone 999.

The Samaritans provide help and support for people in a crisis 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Call 116 123 or visit the Samaritans website

Preventing Suicide in Sussex with the aim to support the reduction of annual suicides, particularly amongst men in Sussex has been launched by the Sussex Health and Care Partnership with details of help and advice

If you are not sure what to do but there is no immediate risk of harm call Sussex Mental Healthline on 0800 0309 500 or NHS 111.

Council Services

Disruption and changes to East Sussex County Council (ESCC) services
A list of the services operated by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) affected by Coronavirus is available on their website.

Headline changes to ESCC services include:

Schools, Nurseries and Childminders

  • Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.
  • All other children will learn remotely until February half term.
  • Early Years settings remain open – Nurseries and childminders can operate their usual practice.

Adult Social Care 

The following services are temporarily closed:

  • Occupational Therapy (OT) clinics
  • Blue Badge clinics
  • Day services for older people. Support will still be offered to day service clients depending on their level of need
  • Skills Development and Employment Pathway (SDEP).

Libraries and archives
All East Sussex libraries are now temporarily closed for general use, due to the National Lockdown: Stay at Home rules.

Customers can continue to reserve books from the library catalogue or by calling 0345 60 80 196 to pick up from the entrance of their local library.

The home library service will remain in place for vulnerable users, book by calling 0345 60 80 196.

For further information:

Register Offices
Due to the National Lockdown: Stay at Home alert level, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies cannot take place, except in exceptional circumstances.

Death registrations
ESCC are registering all deaths by telephone and by appointment only – see Register a death.

Birth registrations
Pre-booked birth registration appointments will go ahead as planned. However new birth registration appointments are temporarily unavailable.

All Household Waste Recycling Sites will remain open during lockdown, with normal opening hours.

Cars can attend each day, but vans and vehicles over 2m will only be accepted on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Van drivers need to bring a proof of address (driver’s licence or recent utility bill) and they will be subject to new trade waste inspections.

The sites will operate differently and have revised opening times – people should check the Council’s East Sussex County Council for up-to-date information.

Waste and recycling

Changes to Waste and recycling services differ by local authority area. Further details are available via the links below:

Lewes District Council and Eastbourne Borough Council – Bins, waste and recycling

Hastings Borough Council – Waste and recycling

Rother District Council – Rubbish and recycling

Wealden District Council – Recycling and waste

The services provided in each of the five local authorities in East Sussex have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This may include changes to Help Points, Council Offices, Car Parks, Waste collections, Museums, Leisure Centres and other operations.

Details of the specific changes in each local authority area are set out on their websites:

Eastbourne Borough Council

Hastings Borough Council

Lewes District Council

Rother District Council

Wealden District Council

Please be aware that local authorities often provide a My Alerts or e-bulletin services which send recipients regular updates and information on changes to services. These are an easy way to keep up-to-date.

If you must travel always:

  • practice social distancing
  • wear a face covering on public transport and in substantially enclosed areas of transport hubs in England unless you are exempt.

You must not travel at all if you:


Bus operators and community transport providers are amending their services in light of the changes imposed by the lockdown.

For details of individual routes or providers, please see bus service changes.

As the situation is changing regularly, travellers are strongly advised to always check before they travel.

Southern Trains are currently running a revised timetable. They have a dedicated page on their website outlining their services during the Coronavirus period.

South Eastern Trains are currently running a revised timetable. They have a dedicated page on their website outlining their services during the Coronavirus period.

Getting Support

Community Hubs in East Sussex
For those who do not have anyone to help, Community Hubs have been set up to ensure that no one is left without support.

Hubs can help you with things like:

  • supporting you with options to help you get food and essentials
  • organising a volunteer to help you with shopping for food or essentials, or collecting your prescriptions
  • putting you in touch with a local organisation or group who can help you cope with the impact of coronavirus
  • referring you to local befriending services if you are lonely or isolated and would like someone to talk to.

Contacting a Community Hub
Anyone who feels they need extra support to cope during the pandemic and has no other way to get help can use a hub. If you’re not sure where to start, the hubs can help signpost you to local options.

To contact a Community Hub, please use the details of the Hub which covers the area in which you live:

phone: 01323 679722 (option 1)

phone: 01424 451019

01273 099956 (option 1)

phone: 01424 787000 (option 4)

phone: 01323 443322

Getting help from NHS volunteers
You can also get help directly from the NHS Volunteer Responders. This service is available for people who have ever been advised to shield, are vulnerable to coronavirus, have caring responsibilities or are self-isolating.

NHS volunteers can help with shopping for food and essentials, collecting prescriptions, or just provide a friendly chat.

If you, or someone you know, would like to register for support from the NHS volunteers please call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week). Visit the website for more information: NHS Volunteer Responders.

If you believe that you or someone you know has a medical condition and should fall into the ‘highly vulnerable’ group, but is not currently registered as such, then you can apply to be classified in this way by visiting the government’s website.

You will need your NHS number to undertake this application.

You can also seek advice and support on this via the Community Hubs.

(see questionI feel isolated as a result of Coronavirus and require immediate support, where should I go for help?)

You may be eligible for a free NHS if at least one of the following applies:

  • you have a high temperature
  • you have a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed
  • you’ve been asked to get a test by a local council
  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result

You can also get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms.

You need to get the test done in the first 8 days of having symptoms.

If you have symptoms, then get a test as soon as possible. You can book a visit to a test site, which are open 7 days a week, or order to a home test kit.

Further details on Coronavirus testing, including how to apply is available here:

If you’re going into hospital
You may need to get tested if you’re due to have surgery or a procedure. The hospital should arrange this for you.

Contact your hospital department if you have any questions. ​

The Government have issued guidance and support about what happens if you test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive.


The NHS Test and Trace service:

  • ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus
  • helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus

Playing your part:

  • if you develop symptoms, you must continue to follow the rules to self-isolate with other members of your household and get a test to find out if you have coronavirus
  • if you test positive for coronavirus, you must share information promptly and accurately about your recent contacts through NHS Test and Trace to help them alert other people who may need to self-isolate
  • if you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if NHS Test and Trace advises you to do so

For the latest information see NHS test and trace: How it works

Good Neighbour Schemes
East Sussex County Council is working with five community and voluntary organisations to set up Good Neighbour Schemes across the county.

These Schemes link people who need some support with volunteers from their community who are able to help.

A list of the current groups, the areas they cover and their contact details are available here.

Hastings and St. Leonard’s Area

CONNECT IN is Hastings Voluntary Action’s (HVA) Telephone Befriending Service.

If you or someone you know would benefit from having someone to chat to, please visit CONNECT IN befriending service or call 01424 444010

HEART Mutual Aid
HEART  (Hastings Emergency Action Response Team) is helping to organise mutual aid for people in the area of Hastings & St. Leonard’s. Contact HEART for details of ‘help available’ and for Volunteering opportunities

Eastbourne Area
A Telephone Befriending Service of volunteers is available.

Please email: or call 07501 909048 between 10-12 on weekdays.

Bexhill Area

Befriending Buddies
Bexhill Caring Community operates a free Befriending Buddies scheme in which volunteers can provide you with a regular visit in your home for a coffee and a chat or perhaps to escort you on a walk or a trip into town.

For more information phone 01424 215116 or


Office hours are Monday to Friday9am to 3pm. Answerphone at other times.

Citizens Advice Bureau
If you are worried about money and need help then Citizens Advice may be able to help you.

They have lots of information about money, benefits and debt on their website: or details of local East Sussex Citizen Advice Bureau locations

The Money Advice Service (MAS)

The Money Advice Service is a body set-up by government to provide free and impartial advice. They can offer a wide range of advice and information on issues such as debt, benefits, mortgages, pensions, travel and insurance.

If you need to know more about which benefits you may be eligible for and how to access them, then please visit this page.

The Money Advice Service also signposts to a range of free advice services who are able to offer guidance in relation to benefits and wider support such as food banks. This information is set out here.

Banks and Building Societies
If you are concerned about finances, banking and mortgages, then it may be worth looking at the website of your bank or building society or contacting them for more information.

Red Cross Hardship Fund
The British Red Cross Hardship Fund provides short term financial help for people who cannot afford essentials such as food and toiletries, somewhere safe to sleep, access to a telephone and the internet, and fuel to keep the lights on, cook or stay warm.

This fund is for people with no income or welfare support, or where there are delays in accessing income or welfare support.

Finding a Foodbank
A map of Foodbanks in East Sussex, together with contact details is available via the 1Space website.

This also includes an overview of the services they provide, their opening hours, the eligibility criteria for use and how and when they may be accessed.

Please note that individual Foodbanks vary in how they operate, and that some services may also have changes due to the social distancing and lockdown restrictions.

Food Vouchers
You will usually need a food bank voucher referral to use one. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) who will able to speak to you about your financial circumstances and can refer you to a food bank.

If for any reason you can’t be supported by your local CAB, then Community hubs, voluntary and community sector organisations and local authorities can also refer people to food banks.

Government Food Parcel

You may have been eligible for a Government food parcel if you were unable to get essentials delivered. Should you wish to now CANCEL the food parcel you may like to view the following advice:-

  • simply refuse the next food parcel that is delivered to your door, by telling the driver you no longer wish to receive food. The driver should inform the Government and you will be removed from the distribution list. The food parcel will be redelivered to someone else on the list, so there is no wastage.
  • You can visit the Government registration website or call 0800 0288 327 and answer ‘yes’ to the question: ‘Do you have a way of getting essential supplies delivered at the moment?’

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) Food Parcel

ESCC food boxes

You may have been receiving an East Sussex County Council’s food delivery service particularly if the Government box does not meet your medical, dietary, cultural or household needs and you do not have family, friends or neighbours who can help.

As with the Government box, should you wish to CANCEL the food parcel then please contact the following number:-

East Sussex County 01273 481242 

(Please note that ESCC is unable to cancel the Government food parcel on your behalf)

Raising Concerns and Complaints

Yes you can still lodge a complaint or concern with any organisation that delivers health and care services.

These should be made using their complaints procedures. More information can be found on their website, or by contacting them directly.

NHS Complaints were paused on the 26th March however resumed in July 2020.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) will also started accepting new health complaints and progressing existing ones from July 2020.

We have been advised that NHS England is discussing with the PHSO and the Department of Health and Social Care the threshold should the NHS need to consider another pause in the event of further pressures due to the pandemic either locally or nationally of COVID-19.

For further information please visit NHS England or

East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) comments and complaints

If you are an East Sussex resident and would like support with making a complaint about a service delivered or paid for by the NHS, you can access the Independent Health Complaints Advocacy (IHCA) Service delivered by The Advocacy People.

If you require support The Advocacy People can be contacted directly via:

Phone: 0330 440 9000

Post: PO Box 375, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 9HU

Text: 80800, starting message with PEOPLE

If you have a complaint about a non-NHS service or are seeking further information, Healthwatch East Sussex provide a dedicated Information and Signposting service, available by calling 0333 101 4007 weekdays from 10am to 2pm.

Yes, we would welcome feedback about your experience of a health or care service in East Sussex at Healthwatch.

Healthwatch East Sussex is the independent public watchdog for health and care services across the county. Our role is to help people access, understand, and navigate health and care services in East Sussex. We also capture people’s experiences in order to help inform and improve local services.

Our Feedback Centre allows users to rate and comment on a health or social care service that they have used.

Our Information and Signposting service is available via a dedicated phone line, available weekdays from 10am to 2pm. You can also contact us via our website or email the address below. We can help you to find out about:

  • Health and care services near to you
  • How to access the support and advice you need
  • What to do if you have a concern or complaint
  • How to share feedback about services

The number to ring is: 0333 101 4007 or you can email:

If the line is busy, please leave a voicemail message and we will get back to you as soon as we can within 3 working days. All calls are charged at the cost of a local call or included in your tariff.

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) provides information and advice around safeguarding adults during the Covid-19 crisis.

If you have a safeguarding concern please report it. Safeguarding is about protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults from abuse or neglect.

You may suspect that someone is being harmed or abused because:

  • You have general concerns about someone’s wellbeing
  • You see or hear about something which could cause abuse
  • Someone tells you something has happened or is happening to them which could be abuse

How can I report concerns?


Phone: 0345 60 80 191

Email: Health and Social Care Connect

Contact the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency

Outside of normal office hours the Emergency Duty Service will respond to serious adult social care issues that cannot wait until the next working day.


Phone: 01323 464 222


If you think a child is in danger call the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency

Concerns about Abuse

National Domestic Abuse Helpline
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by the charity Refuge is free and may be contacted 24 hours a day.

Phone 0808 2000 247 or via the contact form at

Domestic or Sexual Abuse support in East Sussex
If you’ve been affected by domestic or sexual abuse or violence then advice and support is available in East Sussex via The Portal – a partnership of leading Sussex Domestic and Sexual Abuse Charities

Phone: 0300 323 9985


In an emergency call the police on 999.

You can also use 101 to give information to the police or make an enquiry.

Make Yourself Heard
If you are in danger and need the police, but can’t speak, then follow the steps below:

  1. Dial 999
    2. Listen to the questions from the 999 operator
    3. Respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can
    4. If prompted, press 55

Pressing 55 let’s the 999 call operator know it’s a genuine emergency and you’ll be put through to the police.


Sussex Health and Care Partnership Bereavement Guide and Helpline
The Sussex Health and Care Partnership have provided a bereavement guide to offer support during Covid-19. This includes information on registering deaths, planning funerals and sources of advice and support.

The Partnership has also established the Sussex Bereavement Helpline to provide information and advice on bereavement.

Please call 0300 111 2141 – Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Good Grief Trust bereavement helpline
The Good Grief Trust also provides a Covid-19 national bereavement helpline for support and advice during these uncertain and disturbing times.

Call their freephone number 0800 2600 400 anytime between 8am – 8pm

Childhood Bereavement Network
The Childhood Bereavement Network has gathered and developed a number of resources to support bereaved children and young people.

Cruse Bereavement Care
Cruse East Sussex offers expert bereavement support across the county, with a base in Eastbourne serving Eastbourne & District and Hastings & Rother.

Confidential support and information are available to bereaved people of all ages, free of charge.

Telephone: 01323 642942

Fraud and Scams

Unfortunately, reports are being received of unscrupulous traders and scammers who are using the Coronavirus pandemic situation for their own ends, including scams related to vaccinations.

It is important that the public remain vigilant for such practices and look out for vulnerable friends, family members and neighbours.

To report a scam call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 

For advice on scams call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133

If you are in immediate danger, contact the Police on 999

Sign up to our mailing listKeep up-to-date with Healthwatch East Sussex and receive regular information on our activities and how you can have your say on local health and social care services

For detail on how we use your data please view our privacy policy here.