Emergency doctors at Southampton General Hospital are urging members of the public not to venture outside in the current freezing weather conditions.
While Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust is currently operating as normal, staff are concerned about the expected build-up of pressure later today.
During the cold snap earlier this year, the emergency department saw more than 400 people on one day, with the majority suffering from broken bones as a result of avoidable slips and falls.
“We want to make sure people are as safe as possible during the adverse weather conditions and the best way for them to ensure they do that is by staying indoors and avoiding unnecessary travel,” said consultant Dr Jude Reay.
“During the severe weather in January, we saw a huge increase in broken arms, wrists and legs caused by what people would think is minor activity, such as standing on the doorstep, walking along the garden path or going to buy a newspaper.”
Dr Reay and her colleagues are also alarmed at the number of people cycling in the snow and walking out on to roads in a bid to avoid snow-filled pavements.
“I saw people cycling on my way into work this morning and wandering out into the road without looking. It is so important to convey that the risks far outweigh the benefits of doing this – cyclists are at risk of slips and nasty injuries from car accidents, while people run the risk of being hit by vehicles that cannot stop if they walk out into the road.”
Fiona Hoskins, emergency department matron, added people should keep check on their elderly neighbours and ensure they are warm and well.
She said: “Elderly people are very vulnerable in this kind of extreme weather and, where it is safe to do so, we would advise people to check on their older neighbours with a quick call.”
The hospital is urging patients who are due to attend outpatient appointments but cannot travel to use the online cancellation form at www.suht.nhs.uk/cancel where possible. If they are unable to do so, they should phone the number on their appointment letters to relieve pressure on the hospital switchboard.
Any patients concerned about their health should consider the full range of support available, including visiting www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk, telephoning NHS Direct on 0845 4647, visiting a local pharmacy, contacting their GP practice or attending the minor injuries unit on the Royal South Hants site
Posted on Thursday 2 December 2010