Public reminded the “NHS is open for business” amid concerns over a drop in A&E attendancess
The head of an NHS watchdog says some people having a heart attack haven’t called an ambulance or visited an emergency department because they during the pandemic.
Geoff Ryall-Harvey, chief officer of North Wales Community Health Council (NWCHC), said the Welsh Government is “extremely worried” about people not using normal NHS services during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Attendance at emergency departments has dropped by half during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Welsh Ambulance Service recently made a video appealing for people to use them if there was an emergency.
Mr Ryall-Harvey, speaking during a video question and answer session with the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said Welsh Government would say more about their concerns in the coming days.
He said: “Welsh Government is extremely worried about this. On the Welsh Ambulance YouTube channel they’re begging people to use ambulances when they’re ill.
“I know also there are a number of issues around people not going to A&E, not calling an ambulance, when they have suffered, or are in the throes of suffering heart attack.
“Welsh Government’s big message, and we’ll be hearing more about this during the coming days, is the NHS is open for business.”
Some people are worried about infection and some just don’t want to trouble what they see as an overstretched service, said Mr Ryall-Harvey.
He advised all patients who are in a genuine emergency to contact the emergency services as normal.
He added: “Of course they don’t want you to use A&E and ambulances inappropriately, but if you have the symptoms of stroke, if you have symptoms of a heart attack, if you have a continuing healthcare need, use the NHS as you normally would.”
Dr Eduardas Subkovacs, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at the North Wales Cardiac Centre, said: “Heart attacks are always emergencies. If anyone feels the symptoms of a heart attack, they must call 999 immediately, even during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The NHS across the UK is experiencing one of its biggest challenges with the impact of COVID-19, but that does not mean that you should ignore any chest pain.
“If left untreated, this can cause irreversible damage to the heart and can lead to a cardiac arrest.”
Emma Jane Hosking, Medical Director for Glan Clwyd Hospital: “We want to reassure people that hospital services remain open and available for our patients, despite the changes we’re all experiencing due to social distancing.
“Our Emergency Department and hospital services in general remain open and accessible, and while there are changes to the way some services and clinics are working, we’re still here for patients in need.”
“If you think you are in need of urgent care or attention, our staff are ready to care for you.”
Mr Ryall-Harvey added if patients are experiencing problems accessing health care, if they cannot get hold of their GP or they are unsure about what services they can access during the pandemic, they could contact NWCHC for guidance and advice.
If you want advice from North Wales CHCX call the following numbers and leave a message on the answerphone and a member of staff will get back to you: 01248 679284 or 01978 356178
Alternatively, email: email@example.com
Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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