DRUNK adults at barbecues who injure themselves in trampoline accidents are contributing to a surge in A&E attendances during summer months, it has been claimed. 

It comes as an annual report into hospital activity in Scotland revealed that emergency departments are "consistently" busiest during summer months - not winter - and blamed the spike in injuries on "better weather encouraging outdoor pursuits".

Last year, average daily attendances at A&E departments across Scotland peaked at more than 4,700 in May and September, and dropped to their lowest - 4,150 - in January 2017.

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Dr David Chung, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (Scotland) and an emergency consultant at Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire, said they had noticed an increasing number of casualties arriving with injuries causes by garden trampolines.

Across the NHS Ayrshire & Arran region, Dr Chung said around 650 trampoline-related admissions were recorded last year, mostly during the summer months.

Dr Chung said: "In the past it used to be pogo sticks and skateboards, then there were lots of BMX bike injuries, now it's trampolines. It's across all age groups, not just children. When you've got warmer weather and longer daylight, people are having barbecues, the adults have a bit too much to drink and they get on the trampoline. It's broken arms, lacerations, knee injuries, bumps to the head.

"We also see people who've climbed trees and then they've fallen and hurt themselves. You have to remember that while there are more older people within the population, it's the 18 to 35 age group who turn up to A&E most often - and that's always been the case."

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Dr Chung added that alcohol-related admissions peak in summer - rather than the festive season - as people drink more outdoors and for longer. He added that they would also experience higher admissions from children who had injured themselves playing outdoors or from elderly people becoming dehydrated in hot weather, or seeing respiratory problems exacerbated.

The pattern was detailed in a report by ISD Scotland examining the trend from 2008/9 to 2016/17. It found that A&E attendances had "remained relatively stable" with a daily average of 4,400, and were actually lowest in December 2010 - despite Scotland being hit by a "big freeze" of heavy snowfalls and record low temperatures.

It added: "There is a clear and consistent seasonal pattern with peaks in late spring/summer and troughs in winter. June 2014 saw the highest number of average daily attendances (4,829) and December 2010 the lowest (3,928)."

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In another apparent conundrum, compliance with the four-hour A&E target - which stipulates that 95 per cent of patients should be seen, treated and either admitted or discharged within four hours - fell to its lowest in January, despite the number of people turning up at emergency departments being lowest. The ISD Scotland figures show that compliance was 91.4 per cent in January this year, compared to 94 per cent in May and 93.5 per cent in September - when attendances were highest.

However, Dr Chung said he was not surprised.

He said: "The flow of patients downstream has more of more of an effect on the four-hour target than sheer volume of numbers. It's the 'exit block' effect. So in winter, you might have more older people coming into A&E who require admission into a ward, but you can't get them there because there's no spare beds. That's where the delayed discharges come in because there are probably people on those wards who are fit to leave hospital, but they're waiting for a social care package or a care home place.

"Having lots of people with minor injuries, like we do in summer, that's what A&E does very well. We can treat and discharge them fairly quickly."