The region’s NHS teams are urging the public to be extra vigilant during the continuing snowfall seen across the North East.
Recent snowfall has seen many people heading outdoors to enjoy the weather but the NHS is urging people to continue with the fight against Covid and also avoid any unintended injuries.
This week has seen an increase in people attending hospital with injuries from slips, falls and sledging which is placing an increasing strain on emergency departments at a time when health services are already under huge strain.
Bas Sen a Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Director of Emergency Care at Newcastle Hospitals said the RVI had seen a rise in injuries in the past few days:
“We’re asking people to be responsible and extra careful during this heavy snowfall because burdening our NHS with avoidable injuries at a time when we are already struggling with a pandemic is not acceptable.
“We are seeing reports of large groups of people gathering together to socialise, sledge or ski which not only increases the risk of transmitting Covid but also increases the risk of serious injuries at such a critical time during the pandemic. The RVI has seen multiple injuries including some pretty major ones which are terrible for the people concerned but also start consuming critical resources at a time when things are already stretched.”
Older people are also being warned to take extra care as the colder weather starts to bite with the usual slips, trips and falls on snow or ice a much greater risk than usual. Medics are warning that lockdown and longer periods of inactivity can impact on physical resilience so that any breaks or fractures are now much more serious.
Professor Chris Gray, clinical lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “If older people are going to travel during the bad weather only do so if essential and make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear and dressed for the conditions. If possible get support from someone in the family or bubble to hold onto while outside. Remember an unnecessary trip in winter can be an unwelcome trip to hospital.
“Any avoidable accidents in the ice and snow will clearly add more pressure to busy A&E departments which are already under even more pressure than usual due to social distancing and infection control precautions, which mean the space available to care for people and allow NHS staff to work safely has been reduced by between 30 and 50 per cent.
“This is a particularly important message this winter with the NHS under pressure with coronavirus and departments needing to adhere to strict social distancing and infection control procedures in order to keep everyone safe.”
Winter is also a time when people often feel unwell and think about accessing hospital services. By thinking of alternative services such as pharmacy, GP and 111 first people can do their bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus, keep people safe and keep A&E for real emergencies.
NHS 111 online is a hugely useful system for the public and through this service direct appointments at surgeries, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres can be made. They can also send an ambulance for serious or life-threatening issues.