A&E visits plummet at West Hertfordshire Hospitals

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is urging people not to ignore health problems

Friday, 15th May 2020, 3:19 pm
Updated Friday, 15th May 2020, 3:20 pm

A&E visits have plummeted at West Hertfordshire Hospitals during the coronavirus crisis, new figures show.

NHS England data shows 6,619 A&E attendances were recorded at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust last month.

That was 35 per cent fewer than in March, and a 50 per cent decrease from in April last year, when there were 13,127.

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust manages Hemel Hempstead Hospital, Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital

A record low number of emergency visits to hospitals across England were recorded in April as the population stayed away from emergency departments amid the outbreak.

The sharp drop has prompted concern that some people's conditions may have worsened as a fear of infection kept them from seeking care.

Nationally, there were 917,000 A&E attendances in April 2020, down 57% from 2.1 million in 2019.

NHS England said the fall was "likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response".

Dr Nick Scriven, a past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the drop in A&E attendances was "a significant concern" and people's conditions may have worsened as a result.

"This is a ticking timebomb in itself and it will be exacerbated by a myriad of other pressures in the coming weeks," he said.

"There will be an ongoing need to keep people with coronavirus separate from others to prevent transmission. Attempting to manage increased demand will be very challenging."

The NHS figures show emergency admissions at West Hertfordshire Hospitals also fell, from 3,468 in April 2019 to 2,344 last month.

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust - which manages Hemel Hempstead Hospital, Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital - is urging people to go to A&E in an emergency.

A WHHT spokesperson said: “Ignoring problems can have serious consequences and our doors are open for patients who need urgent and emergency services.

"We are here to care for you and there is safe access to services within our A&E and urgent treatment centre.”

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said although A&E attendances were sharply down, the majority of reductions were for lower-risk conditions.

"The NHS has launched a public information campaign reminding the people of the importance of seeking care for urgent and emergency conditions," he said.

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