A&E hospital figures lowest in six years across Norfolk
- Credit: Archant
The number of people attending A&E at Norfolk’s hospitals has fallen to its lowest level in six years.
According to data released on Thursday, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn saw their lowest admissions since January 2014.
The figures are strong evidence that people have heeded calls to stay away from A&Es during the coronavirus pandemic - unless attendance is absolutely necessary.
In April, the overall number of patients in A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hopsital (NNUH) was 7,867, 3,687 at the JPUH and 3,527 at the QEH.
During April 2019, the NNUH saw 12,185 people, JPUH 7,041 and QEH 5,950.
At the start of May, A&E doctor Shaun Price said numbers had halved from 400 to 200 patients a day.
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The drop in figures has been a concern locally and nationally that those who require treatment are staying away due to coroanvirus.
Dr Hazel Stuart, medical director at the JPUH, said many diseases still happened at the same rate, whether there is coronavirus or not.
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Her colleague Dr Jim Crawford, emergency medical consultant at the JPUH, added: “In our main emergency department numbers are down on what they would be for this time of year, some of that is appropriate, some of that is patients who shouldn’t be coming to the emergency department who are staying away and we are very grateful for that but what we are worried about is that we are seeing less strokes, less heart attacks, not as many sick children as normal. What we are concerned about is if there are people who are very sick that are staying away for fear of coronavirus or fear they should not be burdening us.”
The drop in numbers enabled all of the hospitals to record increases in the number of patients seen within four hours.
JPUH saw 92.4pc within the target time, up from 86.7pc the previous year, QEH 92.7pc and NNUH 78pc, up from 62.2pc for the same period the year before.
TThere were further drops in the number of patients waiting more than four hours to be seen.
The number of patients waiting fell 71pc at JPUH from 960 to 292, its lowest since November 2015.
The NNUH and QEH also reported drops of 63pc and 72pc year on year.
Chris Cobb, NNUH chief operating officer, said: “Our emergency department staff have worked phenomenally hard since the start of this pandemic to set up and run two separate EDs at NNUH and have dealt fantastically with the challenges posed by Covid-19.
It is really important that people seek help early if they think they are having a medical emergency such as the symptoms of a stroke or heart attack.”
Read more: Hospitals see big drop in numbers of patients attending A&EThe drop-off in numbers continued with admissions to hospital falling by 37pc (at NNUH) and 53pc at the JPUH.
The statistics also showed the number of “trolley waits” fell by more than half at all three Norfolk hospitals.
“Trolley waits” refer to the number of patients waiting more than four hours from decision to admit to admission.
Again, the JPUH saw the largest year on year drop of 79pc, from 88 to 23.
The NNUH’s year-on-year figure fell from 1,099 to 440 patients waiting, a decrease of 60 per cent - the lowest it has been since August 2018.
The QEH also saw a year on year fall from 257 to 87 - down 66pc.