Don't be scared of going to Preston hospital for help
Visits to Lancashire Teaching Hospitals's A&E increased last month but still remain well below pre-pandemic levels.
It reflects the trend seen across England, with the British Medical Association calling it "incredibly worrying" that patients have not been using the NHS as much as usual.
NHS England data shows 9,638 A&E attendances were recorded at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in May. This was an increase of 40 per cent on April, but still 30 per cent below the same month last year.
Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our hospitals are starting to get busy again and we are seeing an increase in attendances at our Emergency Department.
"We urge anybody who needs urgent treatment or who has a serious injury or life threatening condition to continue to come to hospital if you need to; do not take risks.
"Our staff are here to care for you, whether your condition is coronavirus related or not and we want to assure you that we have put all measures possible in place to keep our patients safe, including separate treatments areas for covid and non-covid patients.”
NHS Trusts across England dealt with 1.3m A&E attendances in May, up from 917,000 in April – making them the two quietest months since such records began in 2010.
However, last month's total was still 42 per cent below May 2019, which NHS England said was likely to be a result of the Covid-19 response.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said the reduction had helped ease overcrowding, but said patients should not be afraid to get care.
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the organisation, said: "Emergency Departments are safe and if you are injured or seriously ill you should go right away.
“If patients have an issue but only have mild non-urgent symptoms it is important to seek help from the right source. Pharmacists, NHS 111 and GPs are all there to provide care.
“By choosing the right service patients can get the help they need while keeping the NHS safe and reducing the risk of further spread of coronavirus."
The NHS figures show emergency admissions at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals followed a similar pattern as A&E attendances, rising from 2,572 in April to 3,175 in May. In May 2019, there were 4,210 emergency admissions.
Dr Simon Walsh, British Medical Association emergency medicine lead, said: “It’s incredibly worrying to see that patients haven’t been using the NHS as much as expected during the Covid-19 pandemic, and even though we’re currently battling a virus, it’s important that anyone who still needs our help, knows they can get it.
“Putting off seeing the GP or going to A&E for emergency care at this time can not only cause a backlog in the NHS once people feel more comfortable about seeking help, but can also, and most concerningly, potentially damage patients’ health, especially those with chronic conditions.
“We appreciate the public being so considerate at this time and really thinking about whether they need to use the NHS, but our principles have not changed: we will be there for anyone who needs us, pandemic or no pandemic.”