Excerpt from the Evening Standard
Health bosses have urged hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments to prepare for patient numbers “similar to that of New Year’s Eve” when pubs and bars reopen this weekend.
Thousands of drinking establishments and restaurants will open for customers for the first time in three months on July 4, on what is being dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.
Sunshine and warm temperatures are forecast across large parts of the country at the weekend.
The Standard has seen a letter sent on Friday by a regional NHS England director to hospital trusts’ chief operating officers urging them to “ensure that your demand/activity planning reflects a busy weekend, with peaks in activity into the evenings similar to that of New Year’s Eve”.
New Year’s is traditionally a manic night for hospital emergency departments, with many members of the public arriving for help after injuring themselves while intoxicated.The letter told hospital leaders to ensure they have extra staff, including senior medics, on site on Saturday. Trust leaders were also asked to make sure there are higher than normal levels of beds free in preparation for Saturday “should we also see a rise in admitted patients”.
The Health Service Journal reported that the note has been distributed in at least two regions.
Steve Kent, chair of South Yorkshire Police Federation, told The Independent that he thinks “we’re going to have a couple of weeks of New Year’s Eves” following the re-opening on Saturday.
During the UK lockdown A&E attendance plummeted as patients wary of catching Covid-19 stayed away. NHS England figures show attendances down from 2.2 million in May 2019 to 1.3 million in May this year — a drop of 42 per cent.
The Government has asked punters to drink responsibly on Saturday.
When pubs open, table service is being encouraged to reduce the amount of interaction on shared surfaces and pub managers have been asked to take customers’ contact details for Covid-19 Test and Trace purposes.
Dr Rinesh Parmar, Chair of the Doctors’ Association UK, told the Standard:
“Doctors and healthcare staff across the NHS have been working flat out during the pandemic to keep patients safe. It is absolutely vital that over the weekend and the coming weeks that people not only follow the social distancing guidance but they minimise the impact on A&E departments. As pubs re-open on 4th July we would call on people to exercise caution and moderation so that they do not suffer the ill effects of excess alcohol consumption.”
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