NHS under pressure: Hundreds of patients are turning up to A&E in Sheffield more than 10 times per year

Hundreds of patients are attending A&E in Sheffield more than 10 times a year costing the NHS thousands, new figures have shown.

Monday, 14th January 2019, 2:37 pm
Updated Monday, 14th January 2019, 2:39 pm
Northern General Hospital

A breakdown of NHS hospital data by the healthcare analysis company Dr Foster found 284 people visited the emergency department at Northern General Hospital 10 or more times between June 2017 and May last year.

The data, broken down per area of South Yorkshire, includes people who were over the age of 11 and attended on a '˜non-planned follow-up' visit.

NHS bosses in Sheffield said they have measures in place to try and reduce this figure.

Researchers found that high intensity users are more likely to live in more deprived areas, be aged 21 to 31 and, visit A&E between 8pm and 6pm and the most attended day was a Monday.

The data also showed most common condition patients are admitted to hospital with is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but also chest and abdominal pain, poisoning by drugs, medications and psychotropic agents and alcohol-related disorders.

National figures show 5,000 HIU patients cost the NHS £53 million '“ around £10,600 per person.

The report said: "As well as generating high healthcare costs, HIUs also increase the risk of overcrowding in emergency departments, affecting the safety and care that can be offered to other patients.

"This relatively small proportion of patients can, therefore, have a significant impact on limited NHS resources and, as such, presents an opportunity to reduce the strain on emergency services.

"It is also important to understand why high intensity users are visiting A&E so frequently, their needs are potentially not being addressed elsewhere in the system one way or another, whatever the root cause of their visits."

Dr David Throssell, Medical Director, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: 'Whilst 284 might seem a high number, we see around 150,000 people in A&E each year and so the percentage of people who attend more than ten times per year is very small.

'Of course we would encourage anyone who doesn't need A&E to choose the correct service for the care that they require, but we also need to recognise that some people with long term or very complex health conditions legitimately need to attend A&E more often than others.

'There are also a small number of people who due to social or mental health reasons may come to A&E more frequently then needed, but we have been working very closely with the Sheffield Health and Social Care Foundation Trust, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group and Sheffield Council to put in place patient specific plans to support these patients and help them to access more appropriate services.

'As a result, we have seen a reduction in the frequency with which these patients have attended the department.'