More than 800,000 people avoided A&E last month due to concerns about coronavirus, it was revealed today.
The number of potential cancer patients being seen on time also fell – as a total of 3.9 million people were stuck on waiting lists for all forms of hospital treatment.
However the figures, from NHS England, showed that about 300,000 more people were prepared to seek emergency care in May than in April, at the height of the pandemic.
The month’s total attendances at A&Es of 1,216,836 was down 41 per cent on the 2.1 million who sought help in May 2019.
The decline in attendances was greatest in minor injuries units – suggesting that people are still prepared to seek emergency help if their condition is serious enough.
Despite hospitals remaining under pressure from coronavirus, more than a million people – 93.5 per cent – were treated within the target four hours.
The number admitted to a ward fell 27 per cent year-on-year, from 547,382 to 398,407 – the second lowest number reported for any month since current records began in August 2010.
Separate figures for cancer patients showed that in April 88 per cent were seen by a specialist within the target two weeks, down from 92 per cent in March.
The number starting treatment within 31 days of diagnosis was virtually unchanged month-on-month at 96 per cent.
The number receiving treatment within 62 days of GP referral fell to 74 per cent. It was almost 90 per cent for breast cancer but 64 per cent for lung cancer, the UK’s biggest cancer killer.
Only 71 per cent of patients awaiting all forms of treatment by the end of April were still within the 18-week time limit – the target is 92 per cent.
These figures – known as “referral to treatment” statistics – show that 3.9 million patients were waiting to start treatment at the end of April, down from 4.2 million at the end of March.
A total of 11,042 people had waited more than a year – almost four times higher than the 3,097 waiting 52 weeks at the end of March.