Cold snap causes A&E surge


By Andrea McCallum

HOSPITAL staff have been snowed under with thousands of patients attending A&E with broken bones during the cold snap.

Wards across the country have been swamped with injured people who have slipped and fallen on the icy roads and pavements.

And the number of fractured wrists and ankles has soared.

More than 2,000 patients attended Aberdeen Royal Infirmary A&E between Christmas Day and January 4 with over 385 fractures treated.

The fracture figures are up by more than 60 per cent and attendance by nearly 20 per cent.

A spokeswoman from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary said: “Some patients have mentioned the weather as being the reason for their attendance to A&E.

“The majority of fractures were to the wrist and ankle and the majority of those were not admitted to hospital.”

Many hospitals saw a rise in patient numbers as GP surgeries closed over the festive period.

Severe weather warnings have been issued across the board with widespread heavy snow forecast over the next few days.

Drivers have been urged to take care on icy roads as temperatures are expected to plummet to as low as -20 by the weekend.

In Inverness, staff at Raigmore Hospital are seeing about 100 patients a day with a noticeable increase in broken bones.

And in Stirling over the past two days patient numbers at A&E grew by 10 per day.

NHS Fife has been severely affected by the severe weather and has had to deal with a six per cent jump in hospital attendances.

Fife’s roads and pavements were left in turmoil after the council ran out of salt and grit – creating hazardous untreated walkways for pedestrians.

Medical teams had to handle more fractures and breaks than usual and even had to increase services to get by.

A spokeswoman from NHS Fife said: “Fractures, breaks and soft tissue damage were among the injuries most frequently sustained and extra theatre sessions were provided to help address the increase in numbers of patients who required surgery.”

Between December 23 and 29, about 12 per cent more poorly folk attended A&E compared to 2008.

Staff for NHS Lanarkshire saw an increase in trauma injuries and their busiest day in December endured as much as three times their normal load.

However, in the Borders NHS staff have noticed fewer patients attending A&E – stating weather as a major reason.

A spokeswoman said: “While it is true that many of those presenting have had a slip or trip as a result of the bad weather, the severe conditions may also be keeping many other people indoors.

“We are continually reviewing our staffing and service provision, particularly our priority services and at-risk patients with access issues, to ensure we continue to maintain these key services and mitigate the affect of the severe weather on our services.”