Concerns have been raised about a drop in the number of patients visiting A&E departments who do not seem to be seeking help elsewhere.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said that figures for attendances across the country are down for the month of May, but crucially, data shows no significant rise in the numbers of people turning to other services.
President of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Katherine Henderson said: “While a reduction in the number of patients attending emergency departments has helped to ease overcrowding, it is worrying that patients aren’t seeking help elsewhere; calls to NHS 111 have not increased month-on-month meaning that some patients who may need help are not getting it.”
Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s A&E department also saw a significant drop in the number of people attending in May compared to the same time last year.
According to information provided by the hospital: ED attendances May 2019 were 4439 and for May 2020, the figure was 3252.
Graham Wilde, chief operating officer for the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have seen a significant reduction in our A&E attendances during the Covid-19 outbreak, as people seek alternative treatment for minor illnesses or injuries elsewhere. However we would also like to highlight that we are still here for those that need urgent and emergency care.”
“If you have a significant health concern, you should still seek advice, either through NHS 111, your GP
Dr Henderson continued: “Patients should not be afraid to get emergency care. Emergency departments are safe and if you are injured or seriously ill you should go right away.
“If patients have an issue but only have mild non-urgent symptoms it is important to seek help from the right source. Pharmacists, NHS 111 and GPs are all there to provide care.
“By choosing the right service patients can get the help they need while keeping the NHS safe and reducing the risk of further spread of coronavirus.”