RECORD waiting times at A&E are not connected to the continued restricted access to GP surgeries, according to a Rotherham Hospital boss.
Almost 650 patients in one month this summer had to wait more than 12 hours to be seen, as the Advertiser revealed in September.
But Michael Wright, the hospital trust’s deputy chief executive, said this was not down to doctors appointments mostly being over the phone.
He said: “During the pandemic, the number of patients attending our emergency department dropped from just under 300 [a day] to around 150.
“A lot of the public were clearly not comfortable in attending because of the impact of Covid.
“More recently, we have seen these numbers ramp up back to normal levels, circa 280 to 300 a day.
“We do see one or two patients presenting with what we would call more minor conditions that shouldn’t necessarily be here.
“But I don’t think that’s really a GP access issue, honestly. I think it’s just that patients now have more confidence to present following the vaccination programme.”
Later in the same Health Select Commission meeting last Thursday (7), Mr Wright stressed the importance of visibility.
He said it was “critical” for the hospital’s senior leadership team to be seen out and about — taking regular tours of trust sites rather than working from home.
Mr Wright also flagged the “significant increases” in mental health cases — particularly eating disorders — among young people.
He added: “It’s very difficult to care for these patients and ultimately they need to be in a specialist environment, not an acute trust.”
Earlier in the same meeting last Thursday (7), mental health trust RDaSH highlighted a trend of rising mental health problems among older people.