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Holidaymakers put strain on Cornish hospital departments
10:44am Wednesday 28th August 2013 in News
An influx of holidaymakers into Cornwall this summer has put a strain on the county’s hospitals.
While tourism officials may be rubbing their hands in glee at the near doubling of the county’s population, hospital chiefs have been holding their arms up in despair.
Emergency departments in particular have been feeling the pressure, with treatment being sought by visitors who might actually be better dealt with at drop-in centres or even pharmacies.
Jo Gibbs, chief operating officer at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, said: “We are seeing a significant rise in emergency attendances and admissions to our hospitals at present.
“It follows record numbers of attendances to our emergency department and urgent care centre during peaks in activity in July.”
Ms Gibbs said that so far it had not been possible to pin this increase down to a common cause, but stressed that as a result it was “all the more important” for people to use alternative services wherever possible.
These include the dedicated health phone line NHS Direct, minor injury units at community hospitals and also pharmacies, where staff could offer advice on conditions that are not an emergency.
Ms Gibbs added that “unusually” for this time of year, the rise in emergency department admissions included a large number of more elderly patients with complex conditions that staff would normally expect to see during the winter months.
The latest figures are the continuation of a trend that has lasted all summer.
One weekend in July saw a record breaking number of patients attending the emergency department and urgent care centre.
The two departments saw 331 patients on Sunday alone, the highest number for a single day since 2009.
Despite this the hospital reported that teams met their target for that month, meaning for July as a whole 95.24 per cent of patients were seen, treated and discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours.