MONDAY at 11am is the busiest time for the Emergency Department at the Great Western Hospital, according to new figures released this week.
The figures, released by Hospital Episode Statistics, show that in 2011-12 a total of 18,838 people attended the department on a Monday compared to just 15,667 people on a Thursday, the quietest day of the week.
The busiest hour for the department at GWH is 11am when 8,395 patients attended, compared to just 855 during 5am.
Nationally, there were 17.6 million A&E attendances recorded at major departments, single speciality A&E departments, walk-in centres and minor injury units – an increase of 8.5 per cent from 2010-11.
Of all of these attendances, 43.4 per cent (7.7m) were patients aged 29 or under, 24.2 per cent (4.3m) were arrivals by ambulance or helicopter, 58.4 per cent (10.3m) of all attendances were discharged and 20.7 per cent (3.7m) of all attendances were admitted to hospital.
The figures came as no surprise to staff at the GWH, who know their busiest periods well and are always prepared to deal with an influx in demand for their services with extra staff brought in to ensure waiting times are kept down.
Stephen Haig, emergency department consultant, said: “The figures are not surprising for us – Monday mornings tend to be busier than any other time.
“People injure themselves over the weekend but they put it off in the hope that it will get better, then they come in to us on a Monday morning.
“I think a lot of people feel like they don’t want to bother the emergency services over the weekend.
“When people come in to an emergency department they have suffered a trauma so it is a high stress time for them. We do try and see people as quickly as we can, we are aware that it is not much fun waiting in the department.
“The majority of people are polite and friendly and that’s nice.
“Occasionally people get cross with us, but these people are usually intoxicated.”
And it is not just Monday mornings that are especially busy for the department – the past week has seen an influx in the number of patients with fractures coming in, due to the ice and snow.
Leighton Day, deputy general manager in unscheduled care, said: “When we have adverse weather like snow and ice, we are always prepared as we are expecting it – we have very detailed reports from the Met Office.
“On Friday, the first day the snow fell, we had a big reduction in attendance as people stayed inside, and over the following few days we saw more and more people.
“On Friday, we saw 150 attendances in a day, but come Tuesday and Wednesday, when people were venturing out, we saw 250 people a day – 100 more than the Friday.”
Since the Choose Well Campaign was launched by NHS Swindon in December 2011, encouraging people to choose the right service for their needs rather than going straight to A&E, the Carfax Walk-In Centre has seen a rise in patients coming through their doors.
Dr Haig said: “We haven’t seen a significant change in our activities since the campaign was launched but we know the Carfax group have seen an increase and continue to do so.
“It is difficult to ascertain whether it has changed people’s behaviour.”