Page last updated at 19:01 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Icy slips lead to cancelled surgery

Doctor examines X-rays
Over 100 patients at Altnagelvin have required fracture surgery

An unprecedented number of patients requiring surgery after falling on ice has led to a NI health trust having to cancel several planned operations.

Altnagelvin Hospital has treated 102 people who required surgery after slipping on ice in the past fortnight.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust has postponed 26 planned operations as a result.

All of NI's five health trusts have said they are under pressure and it is affecting many hospital waiting lists.

Normally, Altnagelvin's trauma and orthopaedic department can cope with around 23 unplanned cases per week, but that figure has doubled since the recent icy weather set in, and is having a knock-on effect on scheduled operations.

A&E pressure

The manager of the trust's trauma service, Cathy Glass, said: "Unfortunately, there has been some postponement of elective, planned surgery.

"That planned surgery - patients coming into the orthopaedic unit to have hip replacements and orthopaedic surgery - has had to be postponed because we have had to use the surgeons to do fracture surgery."

Staff at accident and emergency departments in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital and at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald are also experiencing an increase in patient numbers.

Over the past week at the Royal, 75 people who had sustained fractures will require further treatment.

The advice to the public is to wear sensible footwear and only to go out if necessary.

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