The weekly NHS England figures reveal an 8% year-on-year increase in attendances at major A&E units. Calls to 111 were 20% higher than the same week last year. A Welsh government spokesman said there had been a sharp rise in the number of people seeking treatment in emergency departments- it seems to be the same in Scotland, though with some improvement on last winter due to its government.
There were reports of an ‘extremely dangerous situation’ at one hospital which had to cancel all routine surgeries and appointments for two whole days. GPs in north London were told that two local hospitals were experiencing very high pressure on beds which created a ‘significant challenge to safe operating’. Practices were asked to consider using alternative options for their patients including walk-in centres.
It adds up to a service under even more pressure than most had expected. Bad weather may have accounted for some of the increase in patient numbers. But, whilst paying tribute to the ‘remarkable’ job done by staff in providing high quality services, NHS cheifs acknowledged the ‘very real’ pressures which were not expected to ease in the run-up to spring.
If one thing is clear from this; it is that people are not getting the message to avoid A&E and seek advice from a pharmacist or local GP unless it is a genuine emergency.