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Big rise in patients attending A&E after easing of lockdown restrictions

PUBLISHED: 06:30 23 May 2020

Dr Frankie Swords, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, says A&E attendance is increasing after lockdown measures were eased. Picture: Archant/Joshua Yates

Dr Frankie Swords, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, says A&E attendance is increasing after lockdown measures were eased. Picture: Archant/Joshua Yates

Archant

Norfolk’s three hospitals have reported a surge in A&E patients since lockdown measures were eased.

Norfolks three hospitals have reported a surge in A&E patients since lockdown measures were eased. Picture: ArchantNorfolks three hospitals have reported a surge in A&E patients since lockdown measures were eased. Picture: Archant

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) all said there had been an increase in emergency department attendances.

The rise comes after Sam Higginson, chief executive at Norfolk’s largest hospital, NNUH, admitted he was concerned about a decline.

During an interview for the EDP Daily Briefing podcast in April, Mr Higginson said he was “worried” some patients were not going to the hospital when they needed to.

But less than a month later, health bosses are reporting a return to some form of normality after the government loosened lockdown restrictions.

Dr Frankie Swords, medical director at QEH, said: “Like many hospitals across the country we saw a reduction in patients attending our A&E during lockdown but, since restrictions were eased, patient attendances increased.

“Our A&E is open for those with a medical emergency, but please think about which service is most appropriate for your needs.”

Sam Higginson, chief executive at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, had raised concern over a decline in A&E patients. Photo: NNUHSam Higginson, chief executive at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, had raised concern over a decline in A&E patients. Photo: NNUH

Meanwhile the county’s other hospitals said A&E attendance was comparable to levels seen before the worst of the crisis.

In a statement, NNUH said: “Daily emergency department attendances at NNUH are beginning to return to the levels they were before the pandemic.

“Our staff are working to provide high quality care to all our patients, whilst keeping COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients in distinct zones.”

Dr Frankie Swords, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, says A&E attendance is increasing after lockdown measures were eased. Picture: Archant/Joshua YatesDr Frankie Swords, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, says A&E attendance is increasing after lockdown measures were eased. Picture: Archant/Joshua Yates

A spokesman for JPUH added: “We have seen the number of people attending A&E slowly increasing and gradually returning to nearer pre-COVID-19 levels.

“We have been actively encouraging people to use our A&E if they need emergency medical assistance as we, like many other hospitals, have been concerned at the drop off in numbers attending.”

Unlike A&E departments, doctors surgeries have largely remained busy, although GPs have had to change the way they interact with patients.

More patients are using the A&E department at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after coronavirus lockdown measures were eased. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMANMore patients are using the A&E department at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after coronavirus lockdown measures were eased. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

But Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says that, in the last few weeks, many practices have received an increase in enquiries regarding non-coronavirus concerns.

Its chairman, Dr Anoop Dhesi, said: “We want people to ask for help if they need it. Your local GP practice or usual clinician are still here for you.

“However, it remains really important for everyone to use the NHS carefully, because services are under considerable pressure.”


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