Some patients are going to A&E units in the UK only once, a BBC investigation shows.
Data from 183 sites obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that thousands of people made just one visit to the same unit in 2012-13. An NHS spokesman said the BBC's findings on single attendees raised some worrying questions as hospitals struggled to cope.
He said “There are a variety of issues which lead patients to visit just once, including fatal road accidents, heart attacks, domestic violence, psycho's on day release and industrial accidents. Some patients may be using A&E units as a default because they find it hard to navigate their way round the system in their final death throes.”
Doctors warned that the issue, while confined to a minority of patients, was adding to the mounting pressures on the system. One A&E doctor who wished to remain anonymous said, “If people could simply expire before they reached A&E it would take the pressure off. We could then help people with real health issues such as tickly coughs and saucepans stuck on heads.”
One idea being put forward is for portable diversion signs to be placed at the entrance of A&E departments when ambulances approach. A fatality bonus scheme for paramedics is also being mooted along with pilot scheme called 'Defibu-Later' for St John Ambulance volunteers.