BIRMINGHAM patients are putting added pressure on the town’s hospital services by turning up at its A&E department.
Hospital bosses say they have seen an increase in the number of people using the Alexandra Hospital from outside of its catchment area because of shorter waiting times.
A total of 31,613 people have turned up to the hospital’s A&E department since April this year – up 4.3 per cent on the previous 12 months – with nearly a fifth of those coming from areas outside of Worcestershire including South Birmingham.
Continuous high demand at the county’s emergency departments led to an Urgent Care Study by Healthwatch Worcestershire to find out why people were using A&E.
Peter Pinfield, who helped conduct the survey and chairman of Healthwatch, said he had personally spoken to people from South Birmingham and those in Bromsgrove District who live near to Birmingham, who were using the service as an alternative to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“When I asked why they have come to the Alex, they said it was because they couldn’t get seen at the QE,” he said.
“Quite a few were young mothers and they wanted to be seen quickly so they went over the border.
“In one way they are being smart in the sense they are using the service to suit their needs, the NHS is all about freedom of choice. But then at the same time they are adding extra pressure on our services.”
The findings echo concerns from bosses at University Hospitals Birmingham, which runs the QE, about pressure on their site due to people attending their A&E and being referred for operations from Redditch and Bromsgove due to uncertainty about the future of the Alex.
The Standard reported last July how the emergency department at the QE had treated 4,574 people who lived within eight miles of the Alex in 2012/13, up from ,962 in 2011/12.
More recently UHB banned referrals from GPs outside of its own catchment area, including Redditch, for patients requiring general surgery, pain management, general dermatology, urology and ear, nose and throat operations due to a surge in demand.
A spokeswoman from UHB said: “UHB has agreed we will work closely with the Clinical Commissioning Group to understand more clearly the flows of patients between the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and Redditch.”