Patient numbers drop by two-thirds at Rotherham Hospital
GP referrals to Rotherham Hospital have fallen by two-thirds in the last six weeks — and the number of patients attending A&E has also dropped amid the coronavirus crisis.
George Briggs, chief operating officer for the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust gave his monthly report on performance to board members remotely at their monthly meeting last week.
Figures in the report showed that between March 1 and April 12, the weekly total for referrals from GPs to hospital fell by 67 per cent to around 1,000.
Demand at the Urgent and Emergency Care Centre (UECC) has also dropped, with around 130 people a day currently attending — less than half the equivalent figure of 292 for the same time last year.
The fall was put down to the Covid-19 lockdown.
As a result of fewer people attending the UECC, waiting times to see a clinician have improved and only one patient had to wait over 12 hours for a bed in the month of March (compared with more than 400 in January).
The performance report also showed that activity in the UECC had started to pick up again within the last two weeks but was still substantially lower than normal.
Both Dr Richard Jenkins, chief executive of the hospital trust, and Dr Richard Cullen, chair of the Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group, have voiced concerns recently about the drop in patients seeking the medical treatment they need, particularly those showing signs of a stroke, symptoms of cancer and women accessing maternity services.
The two doctors said this was an area to concentrate on in the coming weeks as the peak of the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have now passed.
Steven Ned, director for workforce at the trust, said the overall number of staff off sick had slightly fallen — but around 200 remained off sick or in isolation each day due to Covid-19, with half of those having been off for over 21 days.
But Mr Briggs said in terms of the trust, given the reduced levels of elective activity in the hospital at the moment, and the lower-
than-anticipated demand relating to Covid-19 activity, these staff sickness levels have been manageable to date.
A dedicated Covid-19 helpline has also been set up for staff who have queries or concerns, which Mr Ned said was receiving an average of between 140 and 190 calls per day.