No surge of A&E patients during first weekend of pubs opening in Scotland

The opening of pubs in Scotland did not cause a sudden spike in the number of patients turning up to accident and emergency (A&E) departments, latest figures show.

According to Public Health Scotland some 23,826 people went to A&E during the week of April 26, when pubs were first allowed to serve alcohol outdoors.

This was a 4 per cent fall on the number of visitors the week before and just 5 per cent up on the figure for the last week in March.

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With restrictions easing and Scotland returning to some level of normality, numbers at A&E have been steadily rising, around 5-6 per cent each week.

Ambulances at the Glasgow Royal Hospital. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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However, there were fears that the re-opening of pubs and sale of alcohol, coupled with the early May bank holiday weekend, might produce an influx in A&E admissions.

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Health boards around the country urged people to take caution during the bank holiday weekend.

Emergency department staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary issued a call for revellers to “take it steady” and “pace themselves” during their first nights out since December, or risk another lockdown.

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But while the effect on virus spread of mixing during that time is not yet known, and cases are expected to rise as a result, the re-opening has so far not caused a dramatic increase in emergency admissions.

Some 88 per cent of patients who visited A&E in the last week of April were seen within four hours. This figure has improved in recent weeks, though it is still yet to meet the Scottish Government target of 90 per cent.

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In the same week 272 patients spent more than eight hours waiting in A&E and 41 were there for more than 12 hours.

The number of patients who visit A&E each month tends to increase in line with Covid-19 restrictions easing.

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The figure for March, the most recent month with complete data, is almost 104,000, not yet back at the pre-pandemic levels of 128,000 in February last year, but an increase on the previous month, when there were 80,000 visits.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned as A&E departments see numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels, it is imperative to assess resources and prepare now for any further waves of the virus expected in future.

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