Hospital bosses warn people to stay away from A&E after a busy Easter weekend

A major A&E department is urging people to stay away as it sees high patient numbers continue over the Easter weekend. Royal Bolton Hospital’s A&E continued to be under severe pressure despite urging people to ‘think carefully’ heading into the Bank Holiday weekend.

People were urged to seek care elsewhere – such as NHS 111 or their GP – unless it was completely necessary. However, a hospital spokesperson confirmed the site remained extremely busy over the weekend, and reiterated the pleas to avoid using the A&E unless absolutely necessary.

Many pharmacies and walk-in centers remained open across Greater Manchester throughout the weekend and GP appointments were made available for those who needed them. But, people still took to A&E putting increased pressure on services. And while pressures remain high at A&E departments, Greater Manchester’s primary care system is also bracing itself for an extremely difficult period ahead.

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On Thursday (April 14) Damian Bates, a consultant in Bolton’s emergency department, told people that they could face long waits if they were not an emergency. Rising Covid-19 cases is said to be contributing to these increasing waiting times.

Dr Bates said: “We will see people in the order they need to be seen. If you’re not an emergency, you will wait for several hours sometimes. So think carefully where you go for care or treatment.

Damian Bates

“We’re really happy to see people when they’re unwell, that’s what we are here for. However, we get a lot of people coming to Royal Bolton Hospital because they don’t think they have a choice of going somewhere else. Ring 111 and get that advice about where you need to be.”

Despite this plea, the hospital remained under pressure over the weekend. A hospital spokesperson told the Manchester Evening News : “Our A&E department continues to be busy and we would urge those with minor or non-urgent conditions to use NHS 111, by phone or online, refer to a GPs, pharmacies or Urgent Treatment Centres. If someone’s condition is life-threatening they should attend at A&E where staff are ready to help.”

This coincided with a video message posted this morning from Nicola Henry, a health care assistant at the trust, saying: “Every single shift you think that it can’t get any busier but it just gets busier and busier. If they need to be in the A&E then they need to be here but they can try and go through different ways about it first to see if they really need to be in an accident and emergency.”

“If someone’s condition is life-threatening they should attend A&E where staff are ready to help.”

Symptoms for visiting the A&E might include severe chest pains, difficulty breathing, bleeding you can’t stop, possible broken bones, and more. Hospital bosses are keen to improve the public’s understanding about finding the most appropriate heath service for different conditions.

Laura Wells, Accident and Emergency Matron, said: “We understand it’s difficult for patients to know which service to pick. We would ask people to educate themselves around what can be dealt with at A&E and what can be treated at other local services. When we can see A&E isn’t the most appropriate option we try and explain that to patients to boost awareness and help them to feel more confident about making the right choice in the future.”

A senior NHS leader has also said current pressures on the health service are a “serious worry” as he called for ministers to act. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the Government “doesn’t seem keen to talk about Covid” – something which he says is “vital”.

In a lengthy Twitter thread on Sunday, Mr Hopson outlined “four big inter-related challenges” facing the NHS – the ongoing impact of Covid, urgent and emergency care pressures, the backlogs and staff shortages. This includes “much higher levels of covid prevalence than we were expecting” with at least 15,000 patients with covid in English hospital beds on 14 April, nearly double what it was six weeks earlier.

He added: “We need right funding, right size of workforce, right support for social care, right level of NHS capacity to meet growing demand and a funded change programme. To make existing model work. Calls for new model & unwarranted criticism of NHS leaders/efficiency a distraction.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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