People needlessly attending A&E at Pinderfields Hospital creating social distancing 'risk', Wakefield health chiefs say

Patients needlessly visiting A&E departments are creating social distancing problems in hospital, health chiefs in Wakefield have warned.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 7:00 am

The number of people attending the emergency department at Pinderfields Hospital in the city has returned to usual levels after a significant drop at the start of lockdown.

But the NHS Trust in charge of Pinderfields says some of those attending A&E do not need to be seen there.

They are re-emphasising the message that A&E should only be used for those with the most serious or life-threatening problems and to call the NHS 111 number for advice on where to go for treatment.

The number of people visiting A&E has risen again after a big drop at the start of lockdown.

The issue was raised at a virtual local health and wellbeing board meeting on Thursday.

Matt England, from the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust said: "Emergency department activity is pretty much back to pre-Covid levels.

"That's obviously a concern given the numbers of patients coming in with conditions that might not necessarily need emergency treatment.

"That does create a potential risk around crowding in the A&E department and with social distancing.

NHS bosses are urging people to call the 111 helpline number, unless they have a life-threatening or very serious ailment, in which case they should call 999 or go straight to A&E.

He added: "A&E is open for emergencies but where it's not an emergency we need people to look at what the alternatives are."

Last year, the trust pleaded for "common sense" after a woman attended Pinderfields' A&E with a broken false nail.

The trust runs an urgent treatment centre at Pontefract Hospital, which can care for patients with problems that need less immediate attention.

The NHS 111 number can also be called 24 hours a day for advice on where to go to access treatment.

Local GP Dr Adam Sheppard said that asking people to call 111 first was "Not about putting barriers up".

He added: "It's just about getting to the right place first time. I share concerns around the use of A&E.

"There are concerns we're going to deal with a difficult winter.

"We're facing a Covid spike and we're trying to reset the system and maintain a healthy population.

"We'd ask people to consider how best to access services, but please be assured from a GP perspective we're open as normal.

"You may be dealt with in a different way, but you will be dealt with so please don't stay away, especially if you have urgent needs."

More NHS information about where to go for treatment and in what scenario can be found here.

Local Democracy Reporting Service