University Hospital investigates 'exceptional' A&E demand

UHNS A&E department The Emergency Centre is expected to treat more than 100,000 patients a year

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An "exceptional" number of patient visits to an accident and emergency department is being investigated by hospital managers.

More than 350 people a day are visiting A&E at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UHNS).

On Monday, 365 people turned up which was only 65 people fewer than on the unit's busiest ever day during icy conditions in December 2010.

The NHS is urging people to use GP surgeries and walk-in centres instead.

Clinical director at the hospital, Dr Chandra Kanneganti said: "It's unusual to have such a high demand at this time of the year - it's been exceptional.

"A&E moved to a brand new building six weeks ago so we're asking, is it people just turning up to see the new department or is it any other more significant reason?"

Trivial reasons

The new A&E department opened on the UHNS City General site in March and occupies half of one of the six floors of the new £400m facility.

It is one of four major trauma centres in the West Midlands and was expected to treat more than 100,000 patients each year.

The hospital says since the new unit opened it has seen a 14% increase in attendances.

Dr Kanneganti said: "We can cope with any number of patients if a major crash happens in Stoke, for example, but any type of service cannot cope if you get too many patients with trivial reasons clogging up the system."

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