Cumbria Crack

Emergency departments under pressure following weather challenges

West Cumberland Hospital

[F]ollowing the adverse weather conditions last week across the county, the Accident & Emergency departments in the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven are currently very busy in line with hospitals across the North East & Cumbria region.

North West Ambulance Service is also very busy and is currently receiving very high levels of 999 emergency calls. They are doing their best to reach people who really need them and ask that people do consider alternatives for non-life threatening issues.

Colder weather can have a significant impact on the number of people becoming seriously ill, particularly those with long-term health conditions and older people. For those who are most vulnerable, exposure to cold temperatures can increase blood pressure, thereby increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke. In addition, the cold can also affect the respiratory system, which reduces the lung’s ability to fight off infection.

In addition, the icy conditions have led to an increase in broken bones and orthopaedic-related injuries.

Members of the public are being advised to:

Seek advice from a high street pharmacist as soon as you start to feel unwell – many common winter illnesses including coughs, colds and upset stomachs will clear up if you look after yourself well (rest, drink plenty of fluids and take over the counter medication)

If you think you need urgent help or advice and it is not life-threatening, use the free NHS 111 number which is available 24/7 and staffed by a team of fully trained advisers who are supported by experienced nurses and paramedics

Check up on older friends, relatives or neighbours to make sure they are warm enough and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather. It’s important to keep warm and to stay indoors during very cold weather if you have heart or respiratory problems

If you have norovirus, the best treatment is to stay at home and keep warm and hydrated. Norovirus can spread very easily, so you should stay off work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have cleared to reduce the risk of passing it on. If you do have norovirus it is really important that you avoid visiting relatives and friends in hospital

Dr Rod Harpin, medical director at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Following the challenging weather conditions last week, we did expect to see a rise in the number of people attending A&E. Cold weather combined with icy treacherous conditions leads to more people becoming ill or injured.

“We are also currently managing an outbreak of Norovirus at the Cumberland Infirmary which then limits our ability to discharge patients. We are continuing to work hard to stop the outbreak and when visiting reopens, we would like to remind people not to visit if you have been unwell in the past 48 hours.

“Our staff are continuing to work extremely hard and are prioritising the patients who need us the most. I would like to thank our staff for their ongoing efforts this week especially given the lengths many of them went to when travelling to and from work last week. I would also like to thank our patients for their patience and understanding during this busy period.

“During these busy spells, we would ask for help from the public too. If it is possible and safe for you to do so we would ask people to make use of alternative options such as your GP or pharmacist. If it’s more serious but not immediately critical, then a minor injuries unit or urgent care centre could be the right place. If you’re in doubt about where to get help, NHS 111 is always the right place to start.

“Never doubt that the NHS will be there for you if you need it, but every now and then we do have to ask for some help from our communities too.”

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