Non-urgent A&E visits ‘cost £2m’ for NHS Trust running Dewsbury hospital

Patients attending A&E with no obvious medical condition cost Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust nearly £2 million last year, new figures reveal.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 8:00 am

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said many people anxious about their health have “no alternative” but to turn to A&E for treatment, and added that pressures on emergency departments should not fall on the public.

NHS Digital data shows roughly 14,000 admissions had a primary diagnosis of “nothing abnormal detected” at the trust in 2019-20.

These attendances cost the trust around £2 million over the period and accounted for six per cent of all emergency activity. The NHS says A&E is for serious and life-threatening emergencies, with patients urged to call 111 over other urgent illnesses.

Dewsbury hospital

But Dr Adrian Boyle, vice president of the RCEM, warned there are “many reasons” why someone could attend an emergency department and then be discharged with no serious diagnosis made.

“They may attend because there is simply no alternative, or they are directed there by an external agency”, he said.

Dr Boyle added: “If patients are unsure about attending A&E or if they have a non-life-threatening condition then they should call NHS 111 where they will be directed to the best care for their particular condition.”

He said concern over pressures on A&E departments should not be shouldered by the public, adding that an “adequately staffed and funded” health service can meet patient and community demand.

Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the Nuffield Trust health think tank, said despite A&E attendances dropping “significantly” during the pandemic, those with a listed diagnosis of ‘nothing abnormal’ did not fall any further than other admission types.

She said: “This suggests that they could not be helped elsewhere in the system or still felt that A&E was the most appropriate service for them.”

Respiratory conditions were the most common issues in 2019-20 for which a diagnosis was listed (23,055).