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Gas leak repaired as 700 Crawley residents evacuated after major incident declared

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A gas leak that caused the immediate evacuation of 700 Crawley residents in flats in Milton Mount Avenue, Crawley has finally been repaired sources have revealed to CN24.

The emergency services responded to a major incident at a large block of flats in Milton Mount Avenue, Crawley at around 12.21am this morning (Wed 6th Jan).

The nature of the leak was so severe that it was declared a ‘major incident’.

A multi-agency response was implemented and Sussex Police worked collaboratively with partners including West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service, West Sussex County Council, Crawley Borough Council and Southern Gas to resolve the incident as quickly and safely as possible.

Approximately 700 residents were evacuated and placed in temporary accommodation including hotels.

A source within the emergency services said:

“I have never seen the evacuation of that number of people done so quickly!”

While sources say the gas leak has now been repaired, they added that it will be some time before residents can return due to the need to allow the gas to dissipate.

This has meant that hundreds of residents are now split up across the town in various hotels and shelters awaiting a return to their homes which could take many hours to resolve.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland said:

“This is an ongoing incident which has caused huge disruption to hundreds of people on a cold January morning, and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue to work with our partners to minimise the ongoing disruption.

“We are working hard to ensure this is dealt with as soon as possible to enable everyone to return home, however this may take several hours yet. In the meantime, we are urging everyone to stay away from the area to allow the responding agencies to focus on resolving the incident to allow residents to return home.

“The exact cause of the gas leak is yet to be determined but not believed to be criminal, and we will provide more information as soon as we are able to.”

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“The council declared a local authority major incident, supported by all partners, in the early hours of this morning.

“Staff worked together to manage the safe evacuation of residents and to transport them into the temporary accommodation, which was arranged around the town.

“This is an unsettling time for Milton Mount residents and their families. They will be able to return to their homes as soon as it safe for them to do so.”

Milton Mount residents should call 01293 438758 with any questions. Any non-residents with any concerns should call our Contact Centre on 01293 438000

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New mental health service launched to support Sussex health and care staff

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A new mental health service has launched this week for health and care staff across Sussex who are supporting our local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Staff in Mind is a confidential NHS service for health and care staff who may be experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties. It has been developed by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of Sussex Health and Care Partnership, an alliance that brings together all the NHS organisations and local councils that look after public health and social care across the county. The service is also available for staff employed by Sussex Partnership who work within Hampshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Funded by NHS England and Improvement, the service offers an independent, confidential and rapid mental wellbeing assessment. It also provides priority access to treatment for people who – for whatever reason – may be less likely to seek help or who may prefer not to access the occupational health and wellbeing support that is available where they work.

Staff are being invited to complete an online self-assessment at www.sussexstaffinmind.nhs.uk to measure how they are feeling. They will be offered a more detailed follow-up assessment with a mental health practitioner, access to psychological treatment if they need it and an agreed follow-up to check on progress.

Psychologist and clinical director of Staff in Mind, Dr Juliet Couche, said:

“Health and care staff are consistently going above and beyond whilst caring for patients during Covid-19. They are working under huge, sustained pressure and are doing an incredible job. But they are not superheroes, they are human.

“In order to help staff continue caring for the local communities we serve, we need to look after their mental health and wellbeing. An important part of this is encouraging them to seek psychological and emotional support when they need it. Staff in Mind is for every health and care staff member across Sussex, from Intensive Care Unit nurse to hospital porter.”

The psychological impact of Covid-19 is demonstrated by data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which identified almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during Covid-19, almost double the rate before the pandemic.

Research evidence points to the risk of health care workers experiencing diagnosable symptoms of traumatic stress in the months ahead. A recently published survey by King’s College London that looked at staff working in nine intensive care units in England found nearly half reported symptoms of severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or problem drinking during the first wave of Covid-19.

A recent survey of 900 health and care staff across Sussex found that most (over 60%) have found their work both highly stressful and tiring over the last 6 months, and a third of this group (20% overall) reported feeling very stressed and tired.

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