Hospitals across the South West have told ITV News they're worried by an alarming drop in the number of people using their emergency services during the coronavirus crisis.
There are particular fears children aren't being admitted, with one doctor telling us some have died because parents and carers are fearful of catching Covid-19, or of over-stretching the NHS.
NHS figures show that in March 2019, nearly 188,000 people visited casualty departments across our region.
In March 2020 it was approximately 130,000.
Visited casualty departments in March 2019
Visited casualty departments in March 2020
NHS A&E ADMISSION FIGURES MARCH 2019 / MARCH 2020:
Gloucestershire - 19,398 / 13,955
Bristol, N Somerset & S Gloucestershire - 33,959 / 23,435
B&NES, Swindon & Wilts - 29,475 / 19,607
Somerset - 19,286 / 13,894
Devon - 43,376 / 27,586
Dorset - 25,031 / 19,952
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly - 17,335 / 11,756
Dr Emma Coombe works in paediatrics across the West Country. She told ITV News that delays are having tragic consequences.
Watch ITV reporter, Richard Payne's report below
The advice from our local NHS services is :
- There are still many injuries and health issues away from coronavirus, don’t hesitate to use NHS services - if you need them.
- A&E departments are there for you when you need urgent or emergency care. At these times, don’t hesitate – call 999 or go straight to A&E.
- A&E, GPs and minor injuries units are all open as usual and ready to provide the care you need.
- Don’t delay seeking help with time-critical medical conditions like strokes, chest pain or severe asthma.