A&E visits at Buckinghamshire Healthcare rise to highest level since before lockdown

Visits to A&E at Buckinghamshire Healthcare rose last month to their highest level since before the coronavirus crisis – but attendances were still lower than in July last year.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 10:43 am
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 10:44 am
Visits to A&E at Buckinghamshire Healthcare rose last month to their highest level since before the coronavirus crisis – but attendances were still lower than in July last year.

An increasing number of people have sought help at emergency departments across England following the easing of lockdown measures, which saw A&E visits fall to a record low in April.

NHS England figures show 9,304 patients visited A&E at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust in July.

That was the highest number since February, and a rise of 7% on the 8,681 visits recorded during June.

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However, it was still 37% lower than the 14,810 patients seen in July the previous year.

Across England, A&E departments received 1.6 million visits last month.

That was an increase of 13% compared to June, but still 30% fewer than the 2.3 million seen during July 2019.

NHS England said significantly lower attendances compared to the previous year was “likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response” – suggesting people are still staying away from A&E departments because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 30% year-on-year drop for July compares with a fall of 33% recorded in June, 42% in May and 57% in April.

NHS guidelines state at least 95% of A&E patients should be seen, treated and admitted or discharged in under four hours.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare saw 85% of visitors in this time, while the average performance across England was 92%.

Dr Nick Scriven, former president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “These are worrying times for the NHS given the threat of a second wave of Covid-19 in addition to all of the other pre-existing issues such as bed capacity, staffing, funding and social care provision.

"A&E attendance remains much lower than last year, yet even with the decreased numbers the four-hour target was not met, showing just how hard hit processes have been in this new era."

An NHS spokesman said NHS staff have worked "around the clock" to treat 108,000 people for coronavirus since the pandemic escalated in March.

“Now that we are through the first wave, local NHS staff are restoring non-Covid services, which have the capacity to treat those needing urgent, emergency and other essential care," he said.

"Nobody should be put off seeking help from the NHS when they need it, whether through NHS 111, their GP, a pharmacist or hospital.”