Rise in A&E attendances after ease in lockdown restrictions

Weston Hospital has been ordered to improve after a CQC report found staff shortages and a lack of l

The number of people attending A&E in Weston and Bristol is on the rise after an ease in lockdown restrictions. - Credit: Archant

The number of people attending A&E in North Somerset and Bristol has gone up by 96 per cent since the first lockdown last year. 

In April 2020, just 7,514 people visited accident and emergency (A&E) departments at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), compared to 16,063 in April 2019 - pre Covid. 

Following the ease in lockdown restrictions, more people have been visiting the trust’s A&E departments at Weston General Hospital and Bristol Royal Infirmary - with 14,723 attending in April 2021. 

A spokesperson for NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are pleased that people are coming forward and seeking support for their health concerns, but we continue to encourage people to use the right service for their needs. 

 “A&E departments should only be used for life threatening emergencies and often, many minor illnesses and injuries can be treated more quickly and easily through pharmacists, GPs and Minor Injuries Units. If you need immediate advice but aren’t sure where to go, you can contact NHS 111 at any time for help.” 

While A&E attendance is rising, the NHS is facing a huge backlog after non-urgent operations were postponed during the first and second waves of Covid-19. 

As part of the national elective accelerator programme, NHS organisations across Bristol, North Somerset and Gloucestershire (BNSSG) are now working together to tackle the backlog.  

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Patients with the greatest clinical need will be prioritised, and plans are in place to provide more support to people in their own homes. 

Extra operations and outpatient appointments will be held over the summer to tackle the backlog, with surgeries being carried out in the evenings and at weekends.  

GPs will hold video consultations to help people prepare for surgery, and more outpatient appointments will be carried out online. 

The 'Hospital at Home' service will also be expanded – enabling patients to recover from surgery on a ‘virtual ward’ in their own home. New smartphone apps will also be used to enable people to access advice on managing conditions. 

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