Western Sussex Hospitals see rise in A&E attendance – but figures still lower than usual

More people visited A&E last month at the Western Sussex Hospitals Trust – but attendances were still far lower than in June last year, new figures show.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 2:40 pm
Worthing Hospital is one of three hospitals run by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

NHS England figures show 10,884 patients visited A&E at the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in June.

That was a rise of 8 per cent on the 10,064 visits recorded during May, but still 16 per cent lower than the 13,016 patients seen in June the previous year.

The pandemic saw a noticeable fall in the number of patients visiting A&E at the trust – which runs Worthing Hospital, St Richard’s Hospital and Southlands Hospital.

In March, the month in which the strict lockdown was introduced, attendance at Western Sussex Hospitals were down 24 per cent when compared with the same month last year – read more here.

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.

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’.

“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.

Police in Sussex, who had prepared for a busy weekend ahead of July 4, echoed her comments and said the weekend ‘generally passed without incident’ – read more here.

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

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’.

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.”