DUP South Antrim MLA and Deputy Chair of the Health Committee, Pam Cameron MLA, has expressed concern at the large drop in attendance statistics at A&E departments.
Commenting, she said:
"Whilst the vast majority of public are to be commended for abiding by the Executive’s advice to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives it is imperative that those with serious non-Covid health emergencies continue to seek medical attention.
Confirmation by Western Health and Social Care Trust during a virtual briefing on Monday that there has been a 46% drop in people attending A&E is deeply worrying. It reiterates what clinicians working in emergency departments right across Northern Ireland are reporting.
Advocacy charities such as NI Chest, Heart & Stroke (NICHS) have shared this concern, with research indicating with heart problems and symptoms of a stroke have been reluctant to seek help at hospital during this crisis. At last week’s Health Committee, I asked the Public Health Agency to strongly consider the public health messaging necessary to encourage people to not ignore the warning signs and to get help they need from a health professional. I am pleased that they intend to run the FAST campaign on social media and in GP surgeries and supermarkets.
Whilst tackling COVID-19 remain a critical priority in the delivery of health and social care currently, it is also important that Ministers signal a commitment and a plan to ramp up routine and elective services moving forward. We would encourage anyone with experiencing symptoms requiring urgent attention to seek help through our GP or local emergency department.’’