Snow Adds To NHS Winter Pressures

NHS-ambulance-servicesThe onslaught of winter snow has brought with it staff shortages, a record number of calls to ambulance services, including diminishing blood supplies, adding to NHS’ winter woes and pressures.

This will prove to be a testing time the NHS, despite the Royal College of Nursing saying winter planning has improved.

There are some ambulance services that are urging 999 should be called only for life threatening emergencies, including asking people to avoid driving out and about in cars.

Meanwhile, the NHS has also launched an appeal requesting people to make blood donations. Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary speaking at a blood donor centre in London said 7,000 units of blood are required daily by the NHS, and encouraged people to visit centres such as these to donate blood to ensure NHS was able to carry out procedures requiring blood, regardless of the weather.

The NHS Blood and Transplant Service covering England and north Wales would like O negative blood type donors, as patients in other blood groups can safely be given this blood type. The Welsh Blood Service covering the rest of Wales has also appealed for O negative and A positive donors to come forward for donating blood, while blood donations sessions have had to be cancelled by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, due to bad weather.

Further, ambulance services are reporting a high numbers of calls, with the North West Ambulance Service responding to nearly 20,000 emergency 999 incidents, 8,000 of which were life threatening, in the past week.

Ambulance services covering Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, the Isles of Scilly and Somerset are urging people to call only for life threatening emergencies like chest pain, serious bleeding, breathing difficulties and choking.

NHS Direct offering health advice over the telephone in England said calls were 50% higher than expected.

There have been numerous reports of people with fractures after slipping on ice, including elderly people falling at home due to deterioration of motor skills due to the cold. Dr. John Heyworth, President of the College of Emergency Medicine representing A&E doctors more patients were coming in with chest infections, pneumonia, snow-related injuries and flu related illnesses.