Following the release of NHS performance data for July, Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:
“These figures show the additional strain the health service has been under during the recent spells of extremely hot weather in the UK.
“We know the heatwave has led to increases in attendances and admissions, particularly among the frail elderly suffering from dehydration resulting in a range of medical problems.
“Attendances to emergency departments were up 4.9% and admissions to hospitals by 5%. A lot of these people were actually very sick and nearly a third of those attending major emergency departments needed admission which is higher than any previous July.
“What is of particular concern now, however, is that the summer months are traditionally the time acute hospitals and frontline staff have to recharge the batteries – this year we have had no respite and draining conditions.
“Last year NHS leaders admitted it took until October to recover from winter 2017 and we are now only a few months away from the next onslaught.
“However, the winter-type levels of activity we have seen in recent weeks have given the new health secretary an insight into the sorts of issues we are likely to see intensify by the end of the year.
“On the plus side, this may have triggered alarm bells earlier than normal and lead to some positive actions being put in place to help us contend with the inevitable winter pressures we will face.”