PATIENTS visiting A&E for non-urgent medical conditions cost Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust more than £1 million, figures reveal.

NHS Digital data shows roughly 7,155 admissions had a primary diagnosis of "nothing abnormal detected" at Mid Essex Hospital NHS Trust in 2019/20.

These attendances cost the trust around £1.6 million over the period and accounted for 7% of all emergency activity.

The Mid Essex Hospital NHS Trust runs, Broomfield Hospital, Braintree Community Hospital, St Michaels Health Centre in Braintree and St Peter's Hospital in Maldon.

The NHS says A&E is for serious and life-threatening emergencies, with patients urged to call 111 over other urgent illnesses.

Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the Nuffield Trust health think tank, said despite A&E attendances dropping "significantly" during the pandemic, those with a listed diagnosis of ‘nothing abnormal’ did not fall any further than other admission types.

She said: "This suggests that they could not be helped elsewhere in the system or still felt that A&E was the most appropriate service for them."

Ms Scobie added that the NHS has made several attempts to divert patients with less serious conditions, including encouraging patients to use the 111 service.

"This process may reduce pressure on ‘front door’ services but is unlikely to reduce admissions to hospitals from those with an urgent need for care," she said.

Across all trusts in England which provided figures, £178 million was spent on 1.1 million non-urgent A&E attendances in 2019-20.

At Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust, sprains or ligament injuries were the most common issues in 2019-20 – for which a diagnosis was listed – accounting for 9,265 emergency episodes.