Is poverty rise to blame for increase in Grimsby A&E admissions?
MORE than 9,000 people visited Grimsby's A&E department in just two months this winter – with many needing to be admitted to wards.
NHS bosses said 9,036 people visited casualty at the Diana, Princess of Wales hospital between December last year and January this year, compared to 8,461 during the same period last year – a rise of 575.
While there has been a climb in the number of people with complex health needs, it is unusual that so many needed to be admitted onto wards.
Public health officials say high unemployment levels and poverty in the less affluent areas of North East Lincolnshire – including East Marsh, West Marsh and South Ward – are contributing to the rising number of ill people.
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Karen Jackson, chief executive of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG), believes there are several contributing factors to high number of A&E attendees.
She said: "It comes down to various things, including patients not presenting signs and symptoms early enough, their mind-set about seeking medical help, complex health needs rising across all generations and others just do not understand what alternative medical help is available in the community."
The figures were released following the announcement that the Trust is to conduct a Sustainable Service Review (SSR) "with the aim of providing high quality health and social care at the best value for money".
Among the matters being looked into will be unplanned (emergency) care, although the review is in its early stages and no decisions have yet been made.
Mrs Jackson said: "These are the types of things the SSR will look into."
Councillor Ros James, pictured, (Lab Heneage), portfolio holder for housing and wellbeing, said: "Undoubtedly, poverty and unemployment are associated with more unhealthy lifestyles such as higher smoking rates, poorer diets and alcohol and drug misuse, which in turn lead on to a much greater risk of developing chronic disease relatively early in life.
"Increasing numbers of people will therefore need to be treated over many years in our GP surgeries and hospitals for a wide range of chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease and mental illness.
"Our growing life expectancy is leading to a substantial increase in disease associated with old age, in particular dementia, which is also putting a strain on our health and social services.
"To try to tackle these issues, a new Health and Wellbeing Board has been established to drive health improvement in North East Lincolnshire."
Mr Oltunde Ashaolu, clinical director of A&E at DPOW, said: "Our hospital is exceptionally busy at the moment both on our in-patient wards and in the accident and emergency department.
"We are seeing quite poorly patients coming through our doors, but I want to thank our committed staff who are continuing to work flexibly to ensure we maintain safe staffing levels during this exceptionally busy time."
See Friday's Grimsby Telegraph for details of the public consultation on plans to sell off NHS buildings at Grimsby's Diana, Princess Of Wales Hospital.
WE would hate to think that any part of the NHS relies on guess work ... but how else does a hospital estimate how many people will visit an Accident and Emergency department at any given period?
It's an area of the NHS that relies on statistics, such as how many attended A&E during the same period the previous year.
But so many factors come into it, such as the weather or outbreaks, including the winter vomiting virus.
So it probably comes as no surprise that more than 9,000 visited Grimsby's A&E during two winter months this year, a rise of 6 per cent on the previous year.
But hospitals have also been targeted by government in the past with reducing A&E figures – how do they do that?
With high unemployment levels and poverty in areas of North East Lincolnshire being blamed for contributing to the rising number of ill people, health bosses would be within their rights to turn the tables and blame government, wouldn't they?
Either way, we can do our bit. Ensuring we don't turn up at what is effectively a department to treat accidents and emergencies with more minor ailments, for a start!
And also seeking health advice from pharmacists or GPs before an illness becomes too serious.
Meanwhile, the government has a responsibility, too, in overturning the bad health habits of a nation!
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