Local Hospitals' A&Es See Busiest Ever Days

Records broken just as junior doctors begin their 72 hour strike

The Accident and Emergency unit at St. George's Hospital
The Accident and Emergency unit at St. George's Hospital

June 14, 2023

Local hospitals saw their busiest day ever this week. As temperatures reached around 30C on Monday (June 12) more than 2,400 people visited A&Es at four South London hospitals and Epsom Hospital in Surrey.

More than 1,250 people went to one of St George’s, Epsom and St Helier’s three emergency departments on the day. This is 80 more than the previous record of 1,170 – a typical day sees around 800 visits.

It is understood that the spike in people attending is partly due to a surge in people needing treatment for respiratory conditions and hay fever due to the hot weather.

The number of 999 calls being made to London Ambulance Service (LAS) has soared to peak pandemic levels due to the heatwave and high pollen count.

The LAS received 7,751 emergency calls on Monday – the most in a day since the Omicron variant caused a massive influx of people being hospitalised with Covid over the 2021/22 festive period.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan issued a high pollution alert on Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 June after receiving advice from forecasters at Imperial College London.

Imperial’s forecasters said it was due to “a strong likelihood of high ozone levels, caused by the hot, sunny weather and south-easterly winds blowing existing pollutants from the continent towards London”.

In a statement earlier this week, Mr Khan urged Londoners to “look after themselves and each other by choosing to walk, cycle or take public transport, avoid unnecessary car journeys, stop their engines idling and refrain from burning wood or garden waste, all of which contribute to high levels of pollution”.

High air pollution alerts are also displayed at public locations across London, including all bus stop countdown signs, as well as on the Underground and on roadside signs.

Dr Richard Jennings, group chief Medical Officer at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group, said, “We have never been busier, and with the upcoming strikes it’s going to be a very challenging week. We’re here, as always, for those who need us. But now more than ever, we need the public’s support in those cases where it is not an emergency. NHS 111 online should be your first port of call in these instances, as it can direct you to where you need to go.”

The surge in patients came just before members of the British Medical Association and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association started a 72 hour strike which will last until 7 am on Saturday (17 June).

Dr Jennings added that the weather has contributed to people coming to hospital as temperatures are set to remain high this week. He said, “This weather has undoubtedly contributed to the rise in people – some who are vulnerable and very sick – coming to our emergency departments.”