North West Anglia Trust sees rise in A&E visits last month

Hospitals in the Peterborough area have seen a rise in the numbers visiting A&E in June – but attendances were still far lower than the same period last year.
Peterborough City HospitalPeterborough City Hospital
Peterborough City Hospital

With pubs and restaurants reopening in England, doctors have urged people to drink responsibly to ensure the NHS does not face undue pressure as the country gets back to normal.

NHS England figures show 11,225 patients visited North West Anglia Trust’s A&E departments during June. The trust runs Peterborough City Hospital, Stamford and Rutland Hospital and Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

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The figure for June represents a rise of nine per cent on the 10,323 visits recorded during May, as patients with non-urgent conditions began to feel safer to return after initially avoiding hospital sites due to coronavirus pressures and fears of spreading infection. The number is 21 per cent lower than the 14,259 patients seen in June the previous year.

Across England, A&E departments received 1.4 million visits during June.

That was an increase of 12 per cent compared to May, but still a third fewer than the 2.1 million seen during June 2019.

Medical experts have previously raised concerns about people staying away from hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic, with delays to seeking treatment potentially storing up problems for the future.

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Dr Simon Walsh, BMA emergency medicine lead, said: “It is crucial that people who are in genuine need of emergency treatment know they can attend hospital to get the care they need, and that it is safe to do so.

“However, with A&E attendances gradually on the rise again the Government must ensure that capacity and resources are available, including beds and workforce, so that hospitals can continue to deliver safe and timely care for both Covid and non-Covid patients.”

Hospitals had feared the reopening of pubs on July 4 may have led to emergency departments being overwhelmed.

But Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said these fears “thankfully do not seem to have come to pass”.

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“We appreciate the common sense of the public and thank the majority for following the rules so that they could enjoy their evening out in a responsible, sensible way,” she said.

Figures on the number of attendances at A&E over the so-called Super Saturday will not be known for a number of weeks, she added.

The BMA said emergency departments have been restructured to allow for social distancing, meaning they are still operating with reduced capacity.

Dr Walsh urged people to use common sense when drinking, warning “we are not out of this pandemic yet”.

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He added: “If you have to go to A&E as a result of too much alcohol, you not only risk taking up the time of doctors and nurses who could be treating patients whose lives are in danger, but you also risk spreading the virus if you have it but aren’t aware.”

An NHS spokesman said staff had pulled out all the stops to deal with coronavirus and ensure the continuation of essential services.

He said: “Whether you or a loved one have the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, are a parent worried about their child or have concerns about conditions such as cancer, you should seek help in the way you always would.

“Ignoring problems can have serious consequences – now or in the future.”