The team said the spike in attendances in recent weeks had included some very poorly people but they had also seen others turning up in the ED with conditions that could be treated elsewhere, helping reduce waits for those that needed it most.
Head of Department for Emergency Medicine, Dr Anthony Kearns, said: “We usually see a rise in attendances as nights become lighter and more children are out and about. Now the pubs are open again we have also seen a rise in alcohol-related injuries. In the last couple of weeks, we have seen daily attendance numbers peaking at 251. We usually expect to between 150 and 180 patients a day.
“Of course, many people have acute conditions that need urgent treatment and they take priority, but we have seen many non-urgent cases, which make the department and the waiting room unsafe, due to crowding and social distancing restrictions. This then means we cannot treat those who urgently need our attention as quickly as we would like.”
There are many other services that can be used for non-urgent and long-term conditions such as pharmacies, GP surgeries, Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) and NHS 111 First, who will book people an appointment if your condition is deemed to be an emergency.
Dr Kearns added: “Our staff have been under a lot of pressure through the Covid pandemic and are now under further strain to treat the exceptional numbers in the ED.
“Many of the people who have attended the ED recently could have turned to other services or even self-care for minor cuts and scrapes and to pharmacies for reassurance and initial advice. We recently had someone attend the department twice in one day with the same non-urgent condition.
“We urge our local community to help and support us by considering the appropriate service for their needs. If in doubt, you can call 111 or visit https://111.nhs.uk/ for further advice on your condition, or 119 for any queries related to Covid-19.”