Recent NHS statistics show that A&E attendances in England fell dramatically throughout the pandemic.

Total turnouts fell by 33% in December 2020 compared to December 2019.

The Coronavirus pandemic contributed to fears from patients about walking into accident and emergency departments.

Doctors have also been encouraging people to make phone calls to hospitals for advice instead of showing up without an appointment.

These measures have meant that more would-be patients have been avoiding hospitals in cases of minor injuries or illnesses.

NHS nurse Jill Louka, 60, said: Obviously, people aren’t wanting to go to A&E now because of Covid, so I think people are sitting on things longer now.

“You can’t actually attend an A&E department now off your own back.

“You are encouraged to ring 111 to get advice before you attend an A&E department unless it’s absolutely life threatening.

“From my experience, a lot of people weren’t registering with GP’s before the pandemic, so they were just turning up at A&E departments for minor illnesses.

“People were using A&E departments like a GP practice.”

 

Having gone through three separate lockdowns over the last 12 months, England’s A&E attendance figures could continue to remain low throughout 2021.

The pandemic has led to fears that attending an A&E department will increase the risk of catching the virus.

A report from The Health Foundation has explained how people’s attitudes towards accessing A&E has changed along with the government restrictions.

The report said: “COVID-19 has led to radical changes in the way people are using NHS and social care services, and emergency care is no exception.

“Three potential reasons behind reductions in A&E visits are: changes in how NHS services operate, changes in patient behaviour and change in the prevalence of conditions.

“Reductions in visits predate lockdown, suggesting that initial reductions were not a reaction to lockdown itself but instead to an increasing awareness of COVID-19.”

A total of just over 2 million people attended an A&E department in December 2019, this fell to around one and a half million by the end of 2020.