March was the quietest month in A&E at NHS hospitals for a DECADE with 500,000 fewer attendances than February ‘because people fear they will catch coronavirus in hospital’
Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month
March was the quietest month in A&E for a decade because of Britain’s coronavirus crisis, NHS figures today show.
Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month, down 430,000 – 22 per cent – on February.
February 2011 held the previous record for the quietest month in A&E, with just 1.6million attendances.
Emergency medics have warned patients are avoiding hospitals out of fear they will catch or spread the deadly coronavirus.
But A&E doctors say casualty units are still open for business and people must use them if they believe they or their child is seriously ill.
NHS England’s national medical director last night urged Britons to keep using the health service if they need emergency care.
Professor Stephen Powis said in yesterday’s Downing Street briefing: ‘The NHS has worked might and day to surge capacity to manage coronavirus.
‘It’s also there for you if you have symptoms of a stroke, symptoms of a heart attack… You should be seeking emergency services just as you always have done.’
His concerns were echoed by Scotland’s interim chief medical officer, who said the NHS was ‘eerily quiet’ for illnesses apart from COVID-19.
It comes after MailOnline last week revealed that the number of people going to A&E had plummeted by almost half in just a month.
Snapshot statistics provided by 50 hospitals showed the number of emergency visits fell 43 per cent in the last week of March compared to the first.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which collected the figures, said people may be avoiding hospitals because of coronavirus fears.
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the RCEM, said: ‘It is really important people with potentially serious conditions still access healthcare.’
‘Delaying going to hospital for something such as appendicitis may lead to bigger and avoidable problems both for the individual and for the health service.’