Staycations part of record air ambulance attendance in region
- Credit: Chris Taylor Photos
Staycations have contributed to the region's air ambulance busiest period in more than four years with crews set to experience "a very busy August too", says its chief executive.
The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) was tasked to 266 incidents across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire last month, and more than 40pc of callouts were to patients living in or visiting Norfolk.
The three main reasons for air ambulance assistance were medical emergency, cardiac arrest and accidental injury.
Matthew Jones, CEO, said: “It’s not surprising that our teams have been particularly busy in July with the number of people staying in the UK this summer, and choosing to holiday in this part of the world, much higher than normal.
"We’re only a few weeks into August and already it’s feeling like a very busy August too."
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It comes as pressures are being reported across Norfolk's care system including the ambulance service and record A&E attendances.
Calls to EAAA come through 999 are assigned by a critical care paramedic and ambulance dispatcher when it is felt an air ambulance is needed, or in the area of an incident.
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Dr Pam Chrispin, deputy medical director, said around 41pc of the callouts were in Norfolk, including to visitors to the county.
The charity saw a fall in trauma incidents during last year due to lockdown, but a rise in calls to self-harm incidents.
She said: We're not only back to normal, it feels like super normal.
"It feels a bit more of that this year, people are getting back on their bikes, back on their horses.
"We would rather be busy, at the end of the day we would rather be out there treating patients that need our care."
The charity needs £15m a year to deliver its services but there was "no need to panic" about the current high numbers of calls said Dr Chrispin.
Mr Jones added the recent increase was a "stark reminder" of investing in its services.
He added: "It’s only thanks to the generosity of people throughout the region that we’re able to take enhanced critical care to the scene of accidents and emergencies to help save lives and we’re incredibly thankful for every donation we receive.”
Pressure on A&E
The summer has seen further record numbers of attendances across the region's A&E with more than 34,000 patients being seen in Norfolk in July.
All three hospitals reported new record attendance figures, with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital admitting 18,980 people last month. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital saw 7,241 people through its doors.
The Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group reported staycations were driving demand for urgent and emergency care at the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, which in July saw 7,827 patients.
In the same month, staff were able to treat 69.1pc of patients within four hours, 69.9pc at JPUH and 73.2pc at the QEH.
Last week, families raised concerns about the pressure on ambulance services after loved ones waited up to 11 hours to be seen.
The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has reported operations level as "very pressured" with warmer weather, large scale sporting events and the summer holidays making a "noticeable change" in the use of the service.
Mum's praise for emergency services
The mum of a nine-year-old boy has called their work of rescue charities "incredible" after coming to her son's aid when he choked on a sweet.
He was one of the 228 incidents, the East Anglian Air Ambulance attended in June, after responding to a report from Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS) volunteer Steve Maddams, who dislodged the sweet.
The crew received the report at 3.30pm on Tuesday, June 29, alongside the ambulance service and stayed to check Archie over.
His mum Kayleigh said: "I wasn't even aware Steve was a first responder and he had a radio with him. He was trying to communicate with me, I was in such a panic I didn't understand what he was telling me. He had radio across it was a young child, and there was an ambulance and air ambulance in the area.
"They are charity funded and the job they do is incredible.
"His story highlights how important charities like these are, they are volunteers, they are normal people with normal jobs. They need to be highlighted as much as possible."