A 51-YEAR-OLD woman visited Homerton Hospital A&E more than 200 times in one year.
In the midst of a crisis in emergency care, the vexatious visitor cost the NHS as much as £30,000.
And one local GP believes she probably mentally ill, and only goes in to see a friendly face.
Nine patients cost £100,000
Between January 2014 and February 2015 the woman went to Homerton A&E every other day.
A further nine patients, between the ages of 29 and 53, dropped into the unit more than 50 times each, Freedom of Information requests show.
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Between them the nine patients clocked up a whopping 800 visits – adding almost £100,000 to the care bill.
The figures suggest patients with recurring needs are not getting the right care.
Nick Mann, a GP at Well Street Surgery, said: “When you’re talking about 200 times that is pathological. There is no public health system in the world who could handle that.”
“The majority of those people have significant mental health issues. They see it as their safe place. They know the people there they see them as friends or family. It is a bubble of safety for them.”
From ‘outstanding’ to struggling
“There is a lot of that. Or they believe there is something seriously wrong with them and they present as if there is a crisis.”
His comments reflect those of Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, who said repeat visitors often attended A&E in search of “a cup of tea”.
Homerton A&E, once rated ‘outstanding’, is now struggling to meet government targets.
This week 93 per cent of patients at Homerton A&E were seen within three hours, falling short of the 95 per cent target.
Homerton’s slipping performance reflects a national trend – just 91 per cent of patients are being seen within 4 hours nationally.
Ian Blunt, a researcher at the prestigious Nuffield Trust, said repeat A&E visits were “a very expensive way of delivering care”, adding that “even the simplest A&E attendance costs the NHS much more than an appointment with a GP”.
A&E: What you think
Roger Sutton, 68, who was recently treated for cancer at Homerton:
“What’s she trying to get? 230 sick notes! I wonder how many self inflicted accidents she’s had to do to get that. It’s just attention seeking isn’t it.”
“Maybe they shouldn’t be going in and out all the time. They should be given alternative care [or] they should admit them and treat them in the hospital rather than sending them home.”
Zaina Kahn, a 29-year-old primary teacher:
“Unless it’s life-threatening you shouldn’t be going to A&E. Every time my sister’s friend has a back ache or her head hurts she goes to A&E. It’s not fair on those people who do have a serious illness.”