An NHS trust has turned to a private hospital to help clear its backlog of operations, it has emerged.
A small number of patients who were awaiting simple procedures have been offered the chance to attend the Nuffield Health Brighton Hospital in Woodingdean rather than remaining on the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust waiting list.
The private hospital confirmed that it has recently been treating around seven NHS patients a week, usually as day cases or overnight stays.
The NHS trust commented: "This short-term arrangement ultimately means these patients will be treated quicker and their wait for surgery will not have been unduly delayed by the huge increase in emergency admissions this winter, or the need to cancel some planned procedures during the days of heavy snow earlier this month."
In addition, the trust's statement claimed that the cost incurred by using the private hospital's facilities would be "significantly lower" than opening operating theatres at the Royal Sussex County Hospital at weekends.
The 56-bed Nuffield Health Brighton Hospital moved to a new site in 1995 and offers a range of services and treatments.