March was the quietest month in A&E at NHS hospitals for a DECADE

March was the quietest month in A&E since NHS records began because of Britain’s coronavirus crisis, figures today show. 

Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month, down 430,000 – 22 per cent – on February.

The number is also 630,000 lower (29 per cent) than March 2019, when 2.17million visits were made to A&E for urgent care. 

February 2011 held the previous record for the quietest month in A&E, with just 1.6million attendances, according to NHS England data. 

Health chiefs admitted the fall was ‘likely to be a result of COVID-19’, which has killed more than 7,000 Britons.

Emergency medics have warned patients are avoiding hospitals out of fear they will catch or spread the deadly coronavirus. 

But A&E doctors say casualty units are still open for business and people must use them if they believe they or their child is seriously ill. 

Data from Public Health England also showed the number of people seen in hospital with a suspected heart attack has halved since the beginning of March. 

Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month, down 430,000 - 22 per cent - on February and 630,000 - 29 per cent - on March 2019

Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month, down 430,000 - 22 per cent - on February and 630,000 - 29 per cent - on March 2019

Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month, down 430,000 – 22 per cent – on February and 630,000 – 29 per cent – on March 2019

Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month

Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month

Casualty departments in England recorded just 1.53million attendances last month

The British Heart Foundation said thousands of people with heart attack symptoms may be apprehensive to visit A&E due to fears over coronavirus.

But it warned they were at greater risk of suffering long-term heart damage, needing intensive care, or even dying as a result.

The number of people attending A&E with heart attack symptoms dropped from 300 per day at the beginning of March, to 150 by the end of March.

According to the BHF, this 50 per cent drop is the equivalent to approximately 5,000 people every month – or more than 1,100 people every week.

NUMBER OF BRITS SEEKING HELP FOR HEART ATTACK SYMPTOMS DROPS BY HALF 

Data from Public Health England also showed the number of people seen in hospital with a suspected heart attack has halved since the beginning of March.

The British Heart Foundation said thousands of people with heart attack symptoms may be apprehensive to visit A&E due to fears over coronavirus.

But it warned they were at greater risk of suffering long-term heart damage, needing intensive care, or even dying as a result.

The number of people attending A&E with heart attack symptoms dropped from 300 per day at the beginning of March, to 150 by the end of March.

According to the BHF, this 50 per cent drop is the equivalent to approximately 5,000 people every month – or more than 1,100 people every week.

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, consultant cardiologist and associate medical director at the BHF, said: ‘Heart attacks don’t stop for a global pandemic.

‘Don’t delay because you think hospitals are too busy – the NHS still has systems in place to treat people for heart attacks and they are still a top priority.’ 

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, consultant cardiologist and associate medical director at the BHF, said: ‘Heart attacks don’t stop for a global pandemic.

‘Don’t delay because you think hospitals are too busy – the NHS still has systems in place to treat people for heart attacks and they are still a top priority.’ 

Dr Ramzi Khamis, co-head of cardiology at Hammersmith Hospital, said: ‘We want to stress that we have the staff, equipment and resources to treat heart attacks.

‘With swift diagnosis and treatment, most people with heart attacks will recover and go on to live a healthy life.

‘However, delays in treatment puts lives at risk, and will result in more pressure on the NHS, not less.’ 

NHS England’s national medical director last night urged Britons to keep using the health service if they need emergency care.

Professor Stephen Powis said in yesterday’s Downing Street briefing: ‘The NHS has worked might and day to surge capacity to manage coronavirus.

‘It’s also there for you if you have symptoms of a stroke, symptoms of a heart attack… You should be seeking emergency services just as you always have done.’

His concerns were echoed by Scotland’s interim chief medical officer, who said the NHS was ‘eerily quiet’ for illnesses apart from COVID-19.   

It comes after MailOnline last week revealed that the number of people going to A&E had plummeted by almost half in just a month.

Snapshot statistics provided by 50 hospitals showed the number of emergency visits fell 43 per cent in the last week of March compared to the first. 

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which collected the figures, said people may be avoiding hospitals because of coronavirus fears.

Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the RCEM, said: ‘It is really important people with potentially serious conditions still access healthcare.’ 

‘Delaying going to hospital for something such as appendicitis may lead to bigger and avoidable problems both for the individual and for the health service.’   

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