St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust among just three NHS trusts to see rise in A&E visits
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust was among only three NHS trusts to see a rise in A&E visits in March, new figures show.
With attendance at accident and emergency departments elsewhere in England plummeting, the head of the health service has issued a plea for those who need urgent care to seek it and not ignore problems until it is too late.
NHS England figures show there were 11,019 A&E attendances at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in March – 998 more than a year previously, a 10% rise.
Nationally, however, accident and emergency departments were at their quietest for any month on record.
Attendances plunged to 1.5 million nationally – 29% below the same month a year earlier.
North West Boroughs Healthcare Trust saw one of England's biggest drops in A&E visits in March, figures show.
NHS England figures show there were 6,217 A&E attendances at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in March – 4,024 fewer than a year previously, a 39% drop.
And Mersey Care Trust also saw a biggest drops in A&E visits in March,
Figures show there were 1,477 A&E attendances at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in March – 1,254 fewer than a year previously, a 46% drop.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine says it is concerned the drop could mean people with serious health problems are avoiding A&E, for fear of catching the coronavirus.
President Dr Katherine Henderson said: “The most important thing the public can do at the moment is to stay indoors and follow the Government’s advice.
“But do seek medical help if you need it – don't stay at home with a heart attack out of fear.
“Our emergency departments have specific areas for Covid-19 patients, and we treat other ailments in another part.
“Our healthcare system is still open for business and you will be seen.”
The British Heart Foundation said separate data shows the number of people attending emergency departments across England with symptoms of a possible heart attack halved during March.
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at BHF, urged people to call 999 immediately if they have any symptoms of a heart attack.
She added: “These are uncertain times, and it’s understandable that people might feel apprehensive about having to go to hospital or putting unnecessary strain on the NHS. But heart attacks don’t stop for a global pandemic.
“Don't delay because you think hospitals are too busy – the NHS still has systems in place to treat people for heart attacks and they are still a top priority.”
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens recently launched a new drive to persuade the public to seek urgent care and treatment when they need it.
He added: “While NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to deal with coronavirus, they have also worked hard to ensure that patients who don’t have Covid-19 can safely access essential services.
“So 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.”