According to NHS England there was a 29% drop in numbers of people attending Accident and Emergency Departments in hospitals in March 2020 – about 1.5 million compared to 2.2 million in March 2019. Although this reduction in pressure on A & E is most welcome, NHS England’s national medical director, told the BBC that people must seek medical assistance if they had symptoms of a stroke or heart attack.
This message has been repeated by Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital, who are now concerned that people may be avoiding visiting the hospital for urgent medical attention. This may be because of the wish to ease the burden on staff, or self-isolating patients may be suffering alone at home. The Blackpool Gazette has reported that the number of people in the Victoria Hospital for heart attacks is down by one third, whilst TIA (mini-stroke) cases have dropped from twenty a day to just one a day.
Consultant cardiologist, Dr Billal Patel, told the Blackpool Gazette, ‘This is highly unusual and very worrying as we fear patients may be delaying coming into hospital. The patients we are seeing are in a worse condition because of delays. We advise patients to dial 999 if they get symptoms which do not go away after ten minutes.’
Colleagues at Blackpool Victoria Hospital are also worried about the high number of cancer appointments which have been cancelled over recent weeks. They say that it is crucially important that if patients have been fast tracked for investigations into potential cancer that appointments are kept.’