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Incidence of emergency calls and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic: findings from a cross-sectional study in a UK ambulance service
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  • Published on:
    Consequences of the emergency response to COVID-19
    • david ratcliffe, General Practitioner Salford Royal Hospitals Trust, North West Ambulance Service, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

    Dear Sir,

    Within their conclusion, Charlton et al recommend further research to understand patient behaviour toward seeking help during the pandemic. In response to this, we would like to highlight the findings of our work which address this. We undertook a mortality review of all deaths in Salford during the peak 7 weeks of the initial pandemic surge (522 deaths), looking at themes which, if addressed could result in reduced mortality in future waves. We reviewed all 111, 999, general practice and hospital contacts for all patients from the 1st March 2020, to ensure all help seeking behaviour and the system response was understood. We have summarised these here.
    We noted 60 cases where patients delayed seeking help. We were also concerned that patients who were advised to call 111 by their GP, and were offered advice, would only call back when seriously ill. “COVID phobia” was evident in a small number of cases, at its extreme, including refusal to attend hospital and subsequent death at home.
    Fewer than half of NHS 111 calls were answered during the review period. Of those that were answered, 46% resulted in advice to contact their GP. Of these, 5 were subsequently admitted to hospital later the same day. Indeed, despite the national directive to telephone 111 as the first point of contact, only 13% actually did. 81% of patients contacted their GP in the period prior to their death.
    However, a lack of early face to face assessments was identi...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.