Shropshire's A&E attendances return to pre-Covid levels

The number of patients attending Shropshire's A&E departments has returned to pre-Covid levels, the boss of the county's two main hospitals has revealed.

NHS England figures show that 10,196 patients attended the emergency departments at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford during March.

It compares to 8,389 patient attendances in March 2020, which had fallen from 10,945 in the previous month.

In a new performance report to the board of directors at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, chief executive Louise Barnett says: "A&E attendances have now returned to pre-Covid-19 levels.

"Our operational performance remains below target and we are working on improvement plans for 2021-22 that deliver improved access times, reduce ambulance handover times and realise the full benefits from our investment in same day emergency care services.

"We have been able to demonstrate sustained improvement in the ‘time to initial assessment’ for our paediatric patients and are now delivering the 15 minute standard consistently.

"Our recruitment of staff into ED [Emergency Department] is continuing to improve, and a focus on addressing constraints has helped us to increase safe early discharges."

Surgery

The report says demand in A&E fell significantly during the first Covid-19 wave and recovered over the summer.

The second and third waves also saw a fall in demand, however this was less pronounced than in the first wave.

It adds that by the end of March, the number of Covid patients being cared for at the hospitals had reduced to six and the critical care units were operating within ‘normal’ capacity levels.

The reduction in Covid admissions enabled the trust to reopen elective theatres and recommence surgery, prioritising patients by clinical urgency.

"We have a considerable backlog of patients waiting for treatment, in common with many other NHS organisations, and we are developing plans to address this backlog as quickly as possible," Ms Barnett added.

"While we are re-establishing services, we continue to maintain social distancing and approved infection prevention practices and therefore are not yet able to return to pre-Covid-19 levels of elective activity."

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