Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

More injuries from snow for NHS

Woman falling on steps
NHS is dealing with a lot of injuries from falls

Hospitals around the UK are reporting an increase in the numbers of injuries from falls because of the snow.

The Department of Health says all the public services are under pressure and the NHS is working extremely hard to minimise the impact on patients.

It praised some trusts for postponing non-urgent surgery because of the severe winter weather.

And stressed it was important for everyone to think responsibly about using NHS resources.

Dr Charles Gutteridge, medical director of the Barts and The London NHS Trust, said: "We've seen a dramatic increase in people with simple strains and minor fractures of the ankle, elbow, forearm and shoulder.

"We haven't seen much major trauma.

"And I think that's because on the whole people are staying at home.

"The ones we have seen slipped while walking to work."

Increased demand

All sites across the South Central region, which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, are reporting that their emergency departments are very busy with minor injuries.

A spokesman said: "During times of increased demand, we all need to think responsibly whether our health issues are a genuine emergency and use NHS resources carefully."

The West Midlands Ambulance Service has said more than a quarter of the calls it received yesterday were because of falls.

The snow led to a 10% increase in calls across the region.

The worst hit area was Birmingham & the Black Country with Staffordshire and Shropshire also affected.

Chief Operating Officer, Rob Ashford, said: "Yesterday we had a steady stream of people who had slipped and hurt themselves.

"In some cases it was as simple as an elderly person going out to retrieve their morning milk and slipping.

"With the heavy frost expected tonight and snow still lying, it's absolutely vital that people help themselves and the ambulance service by being careful.

"Why not show some community spirit and ensure that these people do not have to go out by getting in any supplies they might need?"

Staff stretched

NHS East Midlands said it was experiencing similar pressures and staff were coping with the increased demand: "Our staff are working extremely hard to minimise any disruptions to patient services.

"However, people are asked to consider the most appropriate treatment before directly contacting the emergency services."

NHS South West, which covers Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset, said: "Trusts are working hard to target resources where they are most needed.

"Staff are making extraordinary efforts to travel or are swapping shifts to provide cover where necessary."

Trusts in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East said their services were coping well.

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