Campaign in England targets critically ill patients bypassing hospitals | Coronavirus epidemic


A government campaign has been launched to encourage critically ill people with non-Covid illnesses such as heart attacks to seek help while some people avoid hospitals.

The campaign, which will launch next week, aims to encourage people to use life-saving services – such as cancer screening and care, maternity appointments and mental health support – as they normally would.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has warned that delays in obtaining treatment pose a long-term health risk to people.

He stressed that the NHS was still there for coronavirus-free patients who needed emergency and emergency services for strokes, heart attacks and other life-threatening conditions.

While NHS staff have worked hard to put in place measures that allow people to access care safely – such as the division of services into Covid and non-Covid – visits to accident and accident services emergencies are expected to be 1 m lower in April compared to last year.

In the West Midlands, Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Midlands NHS Trust, said earlier this month that around 300 people with acute and severe medical conditions had refused hospitalization.

“These are people with severe and acute illnesses where an ambulance has been dispatched, but they have refused to go to the hospital and a clinician has moved away very concerned about this person,” said Lewis.

“In general, attendance rates for A&E and general practitioners are very low among these people and they generally refuse care for fear of being hospitalized. People also don’t want to disturb the NHS because they believe health care professionals are busy with other things – these two things are understandable but it’s the wrong way to do it and we want people to know that the NHS is open to business. You’re not alone. “

Campaign will include digital ads, posters and social media featuring NHS staff to persuade people to contact their GP or 111 if they have urgent care needs – or 999 in an emergency – and to go to the hospital if they are told to do so.

Below is an overview of how certain other areas of health care have been affected by coronavirus.


According to Cancer Research UK, the number of urgent referrals by general practitioners for people suspected of cancer decreased by 75% during the pandemic.

Screening services have been officially suspended in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and are de facto suspended in England because invitations are not sent through testing centers.

An NHS chief executive was concerned that GP referrals for target two-week cancer diagnoses would drop from 500 per week to 105, NHS providers reported.

Heart attacks and strokes

The latest data from Public Health England, April 13-19, shows that the number of people going to the emergency room in England with symptoms of a possible heart attack has decreased by around 40% compared to figures seen in early March.

NHS England is collecting figures on the decline in the number of stroke patients. Tony Rudd, clinical manager for the National Stroke Audit, said: “Almost everywhere, the number of patients admitted for acute stroke has dropped dramatically, although it may have recovered a bit in the past week.”

Ambulance waiting time

Response time for the most common ambulance calls increased 45% nationwide in March and almost tripled in London, according to data from NHS England. The national average response time for a category two call – those classified as urgent but not immediately fatal – increased to 32 minutes 6 seconds from an objective of 18 minutes.

Non-emergency operations

Tens of thousands of non-emergency surgeries have been canceled to free up space for coronavirus patients, with rooms turned into intensive care units.

Several acute CEOs have told the Health Service Journal that they want to resume more planned operations because ministers and scientists say the peak of new Covid-19 cases may have passed. Some trusted leaders have said they believe routine elective surgery could be started again next week.

Mental Health

Children’s mental health services across England have seen a sharp drop in referrals. “There is no global figure [on referrals], but we are discussing it. I can say what’s going on in my area, but I asked all the leaders of the college what is going on in the country. We met last week, “said Bernadka Dubicka, president of the faculty of childhood and adolescence at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

In adult services, Billy Boland, president of the Faculty of General Psychiatry for Adults at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said anecdotal comments suggested that GPs were not referring as many people to mental health services. He said, “Many mental health services have changed their operations, so there are more remote consultations.”


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