Junior doctors at East Surrey Hospital's accident and emergency department are cautiously optimistic after the first night treating patients transferred from Crawley.

Junior doctors were concerned that their transfer could cost lives and have an adverse effect on staffing levels, after the Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust announced Crawley A&E would close overnight and East Surrey Hospital would take up the slack.

After discussions with the British Medical Association last week, only patients needing emergency care will be seen at East Surrey Hospital which will have an extra doctor on duty after it was announced a walk-in centre for minor injuries and ailments will be introduced between 9pm and 8am at Crawley.

Dr Ben Mearns, who was on duty Monday night and who is also a newly-elected borough councillor for the Earlswood and Whitebushes ward, said: "There were more patients but we managed to see them all safely with the extra doctor.

"We still have reservations but we are quite positive about it. We do have a problem with bed occupation; all the beds in casualty were full."

Ken Cunningham, chief executive of the Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust, said: "We have listened very carefully to the issues raised by junior doctors and have been advised by our consultants. As a result we have put in place certain measures, including extra doctor cover, which have addressed these concerns and we are confident that the planned overnight transfer of emergency services is in the best clinical interest of the patients."

The new arrangement is being reviewed and the trust's director of operations was monitoring the changes at East Surrey Hospital on Monday night.

Crawley's A&E will remain open between 8am and 9pm until August 2004 when it will revert to a 24-hour walk-in centre.