A&E VISITS in England have halved since the coronavirus outbreak started, dropping to their lowest level since records began.
Before the pandemic, more than 2.1m patients a month were visiting A&E. In April that dropped to 916,581.
Everything from cancer care to routine surgery has been hit hard by coronavirus, and the complete lack of preparation to deal with the virus by Tory governments.
Now, experts are warning that re-starting NHS services will take many months.
NHS England data also show urgent cancer referrals by GPs and routine operations have slowed.
This collapse has seriously embarrassed the government and NHS England, with the latter urging patients to seek urgent medical treatment if they need it.
However, many patients who have suffered strokes and heart problems are staying away because of fears over catching coronavirus in hospital.
NHS England clinical director for strokes Dr Deb Lowe said she and fellow doctors were ‘really worried’ that the numbers seeking help for stroke care had gone down.
Figures published on Thursday showed A&E visits in England have halved since the outbreak began.
During April, there were 916,581 attendances – the lowest since records began in 2010.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, more than 2.1m patients a month were visiting A&E. In March that dropped to 1.53m.
The number of patients admitted for routine surgery and treatment, such as knee and hip operations, dropped by a third to 207,754, down from 305,356 in March 2019.
Hospitals were told to reduce routine care to free up beds for the coronavirus peak, while elderly patients occupying beds were transferred to Care Homes where many of them were infected by the virus and died.
Community services have had to be scaled back as staff have been redeployed and face-to-face contact has had to be restricted.
Health visitors are having to carry out most of their consultations with new mothers via phone or using video technology.
Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Lynda Thomas said yesterday: ‘Cancer must not become the forgotten “C” in this pandemic.’
The Nuffield Trust, the King’s Fund and Health Foundation said tackling the backlog in cases and restoring services was going to take time.
They issued a warning that warned staff were exhausted because they had been working flat out and needed time to recover.
- Care homes felt ‘completely abandoned’ as the coronavirus crisis swept across the UK, the National Care Association has said.
Nadra Ahmed, chair of the association, said advice to prioritise the NHS without adequately protecting elderly people in care was ‘wrong’.
The Johnson government has just announced that £600m is to be used to improve infection control in homes.
Ahmed told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Here we were, suddenly left completely abandoned. And we understand the mantra that was about save the NHS – but our concern was, at what cost was that going to happen?’
She added that ‘the most frail and vulnerable’ should have been shielded.
In fact, because of the Tory government refusal to prepare for the pandemic they were sacrificed.
The NHS Confederation, which represents NHS trusts and other organisations, said when the crisis was over the UK would need to address the ‘national disgrace’ of ‘our collective failure to address social care’.