“Don’t stay away from A&E” says Lincolnshire hospitals boss after patient numbers fall

He says the NHS is not just about COVID-19

It doesn’t seem long since we wrote about the NHS being overwhelmed with patients attending their GP’s and A&E departments, often inappropriately and struggling to cope.  Although as medical negligence solicitors, our job is to bring claims against the NHS where there has been negligent treatment resulting in someone being unnecessarily injured, we are all patients of the NHS ourselves and we do appreciate it being there for us.

At the time, we suggested that perhaps we do need to think a little more carefully about whether we really did need that appointment, but obviously not at the expense of something that really was a concern, to try to free up space.

However, the boot now seems to be on the other foot and Andrew Morgan, Chief Executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, covering Lincoln, Boston and Grantham, said today in Lincolnshire Live that patients should still to go to Accident and Emergency departments if they need to, after the Trust has noticed a fall in the number of people coming in through the doors. The reduction in numbers has been an astonishing 65% across the Midlands. Mr Morgan stressed that other services are still running and urged people with a genuine need for help to use them.

Nationally, the number of referrals for cancer have also fallen, which is thought to be down to people not wanting to “bother” the NHS when it facing huge pressure as a result of the pandemic. Cancer Research UK say they are concerned that up to 2000 new cases of cancer a week may presently be being missed.

Mr Morgan went on to say: “The NHS is not just about Covid. We still have other work going on. A&E is still open. If people feel they have an emergency medical need they should go through the normal channels. NHS 111 is still operating, ambulances are still working and GP practices are still open and patients might end up at A&E.”

He added: “We do fully understand that some people are nervous about coming to hospital or don’t want to leave home. What we don’t want is for people who are seriously ill to avoid hospitals or not access healthcare.  Not surprisingly there are fewer people out and about. The issues are mostly some injuries people get from gardening or from doing stupid things because they’re bored.”

Here at Ringrose, we are mainly working from home, with a few much appreciated staff members  holding the fort in the offices for essential duties that can’t be done from home.  We support the gardening and the dog walking, the baking, the veg growing, the reading, the crafts… but not the stupidity..!

Our point is this. We are often approached by potential clients who allege there was a delay in their diagnosis and thus their treatment and as a result, they have had a worse outcome than they should have done had there been timely intervention. For some people, that “worse outcome” could sadly be death.  If that is the case, then there may be a valid claim. In cases where someone dies earlier than they should, there could be a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act, whereby certain members of close family can claim compensation in their own right.

But then when we look at the medical records, we can see that what has happened is that the person has put off going to see their doctor; they might be scared, worried, don’t want to be a “bother” or just don’t seem to find the time. But when they do, it is unfortunately too late to do anything.  It is stating the obvious to say that doctors can only diagnose and treat patients they see.

Don’t let this happen to you.  If you do have a concern, then the NHS do have capacity to see you.

Obviously, you will need to take great care at the moment if you go out or if you have to be in a group of people and we can’t deny there might be a risk of catching the virus.  We are not doctors and can’t advise you on the level of risk.  But you can always use the phone and some surgeries are being innovative and using video links and the like to “see” patients.  Ambulances will come out in response to a 999 call or if referred by 111.

Although it might not seem that way now, Covid19 is not the only thing to look out for. “Normal” life and “normal” illnesses are still going on. They’re just not making headlines.

Look after yourselves or call our team on 01522 561020 for any support or advice.

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