Concerns coronavirus is putting people off seeking A&E hospital treatment in North Wales
Concerns have been raised that the fear of contracting the coronavirus is putting people with serious conditions off going to hospital.
It comes as newly released figures show that the number of patients seeking treatment at A&E across North Wales has dropped by half during the pandemic.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board reported there had been a “notable reduction” in non-COVID-19 related medical emergencies in the minutes of its latest meeting.
The issue of decreasing attendances at hospitals was addressed today by First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford.
When questioned at the daily Welsh Government press conference about a review of cases being carried out, he stressed the importance of people seeking assistance if they urgently need it.
He said: “There is a concern that people may be fearful of presenting themselves for treatment in the NHS, because they think that if they come forward for treatment, they’ll be putting themselves in harm’s way because of coronavirus circulating inside hospitals.
“The point of a case note review is to see whether we could identify that pattern, and if it was a pattern, what more we can do, to say to people that the NHS in Wales is open.
“It is open for people who need it for coronavirus. It is open for people who need it for other serious conditions.
“We hope that people are willing to come forward for treatment that is necessary, and the case note review will help us to get an insight into that position.”
The health board papers show that most coronavirus patients in North Wales are aged 70 or over, which is consistent with the rest of the UK.
The report also highlights challenges around oxygen supplies, mostly in regard to step down facilities, while Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provisions continue to be a matter of concern
However, officials said kit was still coming through the national procurement process with “positive and pleasing” support from local communities and businesses in making PPE.
The message that people should continue seeking medical help for other conditions has also been reiterated by the chief executive of the NHS in Wales.
Speaking yesterday , Andrew Goodall said: “I want to make the message very clear that the NHS is open to support patients who need to access our services in the range of settings that we have, sometimes that will be through different ways of working, including technology.
“I’ve already talked about the fact that we are seeing encouraging signs that there is some stabilisation of the transmission rates and also of the prevalence of COVID-19 in a hospital environment.
“It’s really important that people need to access care and treatment. They should know that we are ready to support them with that and we’ll be taking all of the necessary precautions to make them safe.”
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter.
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