‘Health service still open’ call sees 1000 more visit A&E

However there are still 55% fewer accident and emergency patients compared to this period last year.

Attendance at accident and emergency departments in Scotland was up by more than 1000 in the third week of April, although the number has fallen almost 55% on the same period last year.

Official NHS Scotland statistics show 12,900 people attended A&E in the week beginning April 13, down from 28,550 patients last year and 27,772 in 2018.

However, the number of A&E patients in Scotland rose by 1019 compared to the previous week, amid messages from government and the NHS that the health service is still open despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The week-on-week rise follows a plea from interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith for patients showing serious symptoms or needing emergency help to still seek medical assistance.

The figures also show the hospitals have met the Scottish Government’s target for 95% of A&E patients to be seen within four hours for the first time since June 2017.

In the week beginning April 13, 95.2% of patients were either admitted to hospital, transferred or discharged within the four-hour target, with only 25 patients spending more than eight hours in an accident and emergency department and two people forced to wait more than 12 hours.

At the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, Dr Smith said he had heard anecdotally about rising numbers of people presenting with serious symptoms or being involved in “avoidable” accidents.

He said: “I’ve spoken before about the need for people to come forward with urgent symptoms so that they get the clinical care that they need when they need it, for symptoms like chest pain or when people experience a new weakness in the facial muscles, the lungs or difficulty speaking that may be suggestive of a stroke.”

“But I’ve been speaking over the weekend and again today and there’s a feeling that it seems more people are attending with these types of symptoms.

“That’s good, and it’s important as these need to be assessed quickly, so that they can be treated appropriately.

“Speed is of the essence here, and my message to you again is please don’t delay seeking help if you experienced these type of symptoms.

“If you do, my colleagues and I expect you to fall in 999 so that we can help you as quickly as possible.”

Dr Smith added: “When I’ve been speaking to colleagues, they’ve also told me that they’ve seen more cases of people presenting with trauma after accidents or risk-taking behaviours. I’m sure that many of these will be avoidable.

“As an example, there are more people using cycling as a way of travelling just now and I would make a plea to all road users, whether on a bicycle in the car, to be especially mindful of each other on the road.

“Similarly, if you’re tackling new projects at home or in the garden that you’ve been putting off until now, please take care, and make sure that you’re following all the guidance necessary when you’re working at height or with electrical tools.

“Anything we can do together to reduce the impact in NHS services just now is appreciated and welcome.”

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