‘Rubbish’ communications on Group A Strep from government agencies made A&Es more ‘risky’ over the weekend, after services were flooded with the ‘worried well’, several senior provider sources have told HSJ.
On Friday the UK Health Security Agency, successor to Public Health England, issued a warning on a higher than usual number of cases after the deaths of five children under 10 in a week.
Several senior sources in hospital, 111/ambulance, urgent care and primary care providers, told HSJ they were not warned UKHSA were making an announcement that would also see services flooded by the worried well.
NHS England’s clinical lead for integrated urgent care issued a letter, seen by HSJ, saying a “considerable increase” in 111 demand over the weekend was “in part due to Group A Strep concerns”. Sources in the sector said the increase in demand was “heavily” Strep-related.
One senior accident and emergency leader told HSJ that when parents could not get through on 111 they brought their children to emergency departments. “The media messaging has been handled terribly”, they added.
They added: “Huge numbers of ‘worried well’ makes the A&E a much more dangerous place. We are just not equipped to deal with the volume of patients. [There is a] much greater chance we would miss one seriously unwell child when we are wading through a six-hour queue of viral, but otherwise well, kids.”
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Source: HSJ, 6 December 2022