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Emergency department’s warning on numbers

David Monk outside emergency department
David Monk: "Don't bring family groups to the emergency department."

A clinician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, today issued an appeal for patients not to bring large groups of relatives or friends into the emergency department.

Urgent care programme lead, David Monk, said the department has a duty to maintain social distancing to keep people safe, but that is made difficult if entire families come through the doors.

The number of patients coming into ED is now back up to pre-Covid levels, meaning that in any one day the service treats up to 300 people. Some are accompanied by up to four relatives, leaving busy staff with the awkward task of asking them to leave.

The hospital has put a number of initiatives in place to make the department safe and efficient, including a triage system which is able to direct some patients to the adjacent Urgent Treatment Centre or redirected to 111.

Mr Monk said: “It is extremely important that anyone who needs emergency treatment comes to the emergency department, and feels safe doing so.

However, we have over the last week, noticed an increasing number of relatives coming to ED with patients, many stating they are carers and when we look into it further they are not.

David Monk

“We cannot support this and maintain social distancing. This Friday (14 Aug) we had to ask a number to leave to be able to let other patients into the department and maintain social distancing.

“We simply want patients to be aware of this, and help us help them. COVID-19 remains a real concern for us and our patients, many of whom are extremely vulnerable. The exceptions to no visitors to the ED are one parent accompanying a child or a full-time carer.”

Non-urgent advice: NHS 111 service

You should use the NHS 111 service if you need urgent medical help or advice for a physical issue that is not life-threatening, or if you are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough (by calling 111 and selecting option 2 when prompted for the mental health service). You can access 111 online (this service is for people aged 5 and over) or by calling 111.