Several hospitals in the North East of England are already struggling to cope in their Accident and Emergency departments because of the pressures of the winter season.
At this time of year, A&E departments normally struggle with a variety of problems, from accidents caused by icy roads – this has already happened at Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which reported an “unprecedented demand” for A&E aid – to dealing with those suffering from excessive alcohol consumption because of Christmas festivities. However, it has been noted that while A&Es appear to be busier at this time of year, this may not be the case. Rather, it is that the cases coming in are more complex than usual.
At least three hospitals in Middlesbrough have stated that they are having to treat a greater number of older patients because they are visiting A&E with respiratory problems caused by colder weather. Very few of these patients are able to be discharged from A&E, with some also requiring to be put into wards for further treatment, with a bed not always being available for them. Meanwhile, discharge delays are caused because elderly patients do not have in place any suitable form of home care, and there is no room for them at care homes.
Some of the problems are caused by people going to A&E when their situation is not actually an emergency. Out of the 3,414 A&E attendances recorded throughout Northumberland and North Tyneside during last week, only 942 (28%) needed emergency treatment.