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A&E departments across the UK are far quieter than usual, prompting Professor Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England, to urge people to seek emergency help if they need it.
Addressing the nation in the daily government press briefing on Wednesday, he said: “The NHS has worked night and day to surge capacity to manage coronavirus. But it’s also there for you if you have symptoms of a stroke, symptoms of a heart attack, if you have any emergency condition whether it’s a sick child, whether it’s a mother in pregnancy who’s worried about movements of the baby, you should be seeking emergency services just as you always have done.
“They are there for you and, although we are focusing on coronavirus, it’s important we continue to focus on other emergency conditions.”
The worry is that those who genuinely need help are staying at home, instead of seeking it. But when you’re in cardiac arrest, suffering a stroke, or appendicitis, it will not pass and urgent medical attention is necessary.
New figures show that emergency admissions to A&E departments at hospitals in England fell sharply last month, down 23% from 555,457 in March 2019 to 427,921 in March 2020.
The number of A&E attendances who were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours in March 2020 was the lowest reported for any calendar month since current records began.
Steve McManus, chief executive of Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, said his hospital has witnessed a considerable drop in people heading to A&E. He puts it down to a couple of things. Firstly, that people are “making conscious decisions not to come to hospital” and are going to walk-in centres or calling NHS 111 instead.
“The other is that people are not taking part in the type of activities that can lead to trips to A&E,” he told Berkshire Live. “That...