A&E units under growing strain

Sheffield Children's Hospital
Sheffield Children's Hospital

Over-stretched emergency departments in Sheffield hospitals are reporting ‘exceptional numbers of patients’ visiting A&E this winter, health bosses have said.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital A&E department was 36 per cent busier than normal earlier this month and recorded its ‘busiest-ever day’ on Sunday, December 14.

The hospital normally deals with around 1,000 patients per week, but 1,362 came through the doors between December 6 and 12.

Patients with ‘non-life threatening illnesses or injuries’ have been warned to expect longer waits at A&E. NHS leaders said some of the patients who have come into A&E over the past few weeks did not need urgent care and should have sought treatment elsewhere.

Professor Derek Burke, medical director at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said: “Our staff have been incredible, showing real dedication and compassion despite the large number of children coming through our doors. Families can help by considering the alternatives. Something as simple as going to speak to your pharmacist can help relieve pressure on our emergency services.”

Kirsten Major, director of strategy and operations at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “Our staff are doing an amazing job in coping with the increase in demand for emergency care. But it is important that our staff concentrate all their efforts on treating the sickest patients and so we are asking the public to support us to do this over the busy winter months by thinking twice about whether they really need to come to A&E.”

People with more minor conditions are being encouraged to attend the NHS Walk-in Centre on Broad Lane or the Minor Injuries Centre at the Royal Hallamshire.

It comes after Sheffield hospital bosses warned about soaring demand for casualty services over winter last week. More than 13,000 people visited the Northern General Hospital’s A&E unit in October – 400 more than at the same time last year.