David Kirby, Emergency Department Consultant said: “We are currently experiencing an extraordinary surge in demand within our Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department, especially at our Luton & Dunstable Hospital site.
“Our staff are working incredibly hard to assess and treat patients as quickly as possible, prioritising those in most clinical need. We ask the public to support us by only attending hospital if seriously unwell. If you are attending A&E for a minor condition, please be aware you may unfortunately experience very long waits. Alternatives to attending hospitals are to contact NHS 111, visit your GP, pharmacist or local walk-in centre.”
The warning comes as hospitals across the country are warning of long delays. A video taken at Harlow emergency department shows a nurse warning of a 13-hour delay for people to be seen.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid was played a clip of the nurse on BBC Breakfast and said the NHS was seeing very high levels of demand in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. “Of course that’s not a thing that anyone wants to see,” he said.
"Because of the impact of Covid… we know already from our NHS estimates, we think some 11 to 13 million people stayed away from the NHS because of the pandemic. Many of those people are coming forward, many of those to A&E, and we’re seeing very high levels of demand. That is a real challenge for the NHS across the system.
“What we’re doing about it is investing record amounts including in ambulance trusts, the 111 calling service that now have more call handlers than ever before, we put in just last year additional emergency £400 million for A&E facilities across the country. So I think the NHS is doing everything it possible can be doing. The waiting times are improving but it’s not what anyone wants to see, those kind of waits.”