Research has suggested that the government’s “Stay Home” message may have had a “devastating” impact by discouraging thousands of patients in medical crisis from seeking help.
The study, conducted by the University of Leeds, monitored more than 50,000 patients who had a heart attack and were treated in 99 major hospitals in England before or during the lockdown.
As a result, the number of people attending emergency and accident departments dropped by 50% at some points during the pandemic.
Previously, the NHS chief said that most of the cases that stopped attending the emergency room involved minor conditions that could have been treated elsewhere.
In June, Sir Simon said that a review of the type of cases that did not show up to the emergency department in April found that “at a ratio of about 14 to one, they were for the most part more minor conditions than could be treated, on a booked basis or in an emergency care center or in general medicine. “
The medical director of the NHS, prof. Stephen Powis, said the “111 first” model would help ensure emergency wards didn’t get crowded, which has been increasingly important since the advent of Covid.
He told lawmakers the move was also aimed at ensuring that people received the most appropriate care.
“We want to move, as we wanted to move before Covid, increasingly to a first model 111 that ensures that we do everything possible to give appropriate advice to point people to the most appropriate place for treatment.”
The latest documents from the NHS England board of directors state: “The social ‘blockade’ to control the spread of COVID-19 has seen a sharp reduction in participation in emergency departments (ED) and a sharp increase in calls to the NHS 111 service. and the use of NHS 111 Online.
Call volume has subsequently returned to near normal and the level of ED participation is increasing.
“The NHS ‘111 First’ program is working to introduce a number of initiatives to reduce the number of face-to-face contacts patients will have to experience to access urgent care services.”
The president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said emergency room appointments will help prevent overcrowding when the NHS is trying to keep social distance.
Dr Katherine Henderson said it would cause “tremendous harm” to patients if Britain returned to victim-packed units.
An NHS spokesperson said: “GPs, nurses, paramedics and other staff working in the NHS 111 telephone and online service have already played a key role in helping millions of people receive the right care and advice safely in last six months, whether for coronavirus or any other urgent medical need – and can already book people who need it for face-to-face appointments with local doctors or arrange home visits.
“As the NHS prepares for winter, we are further improving that offering with more doctors and better connections with local emergency departments and will launch a major public information campaign to ensure that people know how to get the care they need. need as safely as possible. “