Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

England's hospitals inundated with ice injuries

People walking on ice on Steep Hill, Lincoln
Many streets, like this one in Lincoln, are covered in ice

Hospitals across England are struggling to cope with the influx of injured people as continuing freezing weather leaves roads and pavements treacherous.

Hundreds of people have suffered fractures slipping over. Others have developed breathing problems.

Outbreaks of norovirus have added to the problems and many scheduled operations have been cancelled.

The conditions have led to continuing travel problems and more snow, coupled with strong winds, is forecast.

At the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske, nearly all A&E admissions are weather-related.

A spokeswoman for Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust said: "As you'd expect, we've seen a significant rise in the number of admissions and attendances related to the current weather conditions.

They're coming in with serious conditions -broken hips, broken legs, broken ankles, but the cold weather also creates a problem with medical conditions
Michael O'Riordan, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust

"At the same time we have had a terrific response from staff who have made great efforts to get to work or even stayed at our hospital to make sure they are available for duty."

NHS managers in Worcestershire said hospitals were struggling with the number of patients with broken bones and respiratory problems.

The chairman of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, Michael O'Riordan, said: "They're coming in with serious conditions.

"It's the fractures because they've slipped and fallen, broken hips, broken legs, broken ankles, but the cold weather also creates a problem with medical conditions, respiratory problems ."

Walking frames

Hospitals in Lancashire have made a plea for unused Zimmer frames as they struggle to cope with patients injured as a result of slipping on the ice.

Emergency referrals to fracture clinics in Chorley and Preston have risen by 75% since 21 December, with 515 patients being treated after falling.

The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust has cancelled a number of non-urgent services, including the routine cardiology outpatients and antenatal clinics, as a result of the severe weather.

In London, the Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust has been forced to cancel some non-emergency surgery and outpatient clinics.

Burst mains

England has seen temperatures plunge to as low as -18C (1.4F) in the last few days, causing treacherous conditions on roads and pavements.

Elderly woman walking on ice
The elderly are particularly vulnerable

Thousands of schools remain closed and councils are struggling to grit roads.

And while councils across England are trying to treat as many roads as possible with dwindling salt supplies, one authority is even taking steps to protect its grit from thieves.

Four hundred tonnes of salt has been moved to a more secure yard by North Yorkshire County Council after minor thefts from some grit bins.

There have also been more delays and cancellations for travellers.

Easyjet cancelled some flights at Gatwick, Liverpool and Stansted.

South West Trains, Southern and Southeastern are among the train companies operating revised timetables.

Eurostar has cancelled half of its services between London and Paris because of the weather conditions.

Up to 4,000 homes in Reading were without water after a main burst outside the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

As the cold weather continues staff across the NHS...have been working extremely hard to minimise the impact on patients
Health Secretary Andy Burnham

Woodford in Greater Manchester recorded the lowest temperature overnight on Thursday of -17C (1.4F) and remained the coldest place in England on Friday.

More snow is forecast for large parts of eastern England. Up to 10cm (3.9in) of snow is expected to fall over the North York Moors later and up to 5cm (2in) in Kent.

A Met Office spokeswoman said: "It's going to stay very cold and quite windy.

"The cold weather will stay with us over the weekend as well when there will be further snow showers in north-east and south-east England."


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