Wintry weather: Help take pressure off A&E departments, NHS urges

RESIDENTS have been urged to take extra care in the current snowy and icy weather in a bid to help ease pressure on hospital A&E departments.

NHS West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said choosing the appropriate place for treatment of any injuries that people incur during the cold snap would also help.

Chairman Dr Rob Gerlis said slips and falls become a major problem in the current weather, but warned the cold itself can be a problem for many.

“Cold weather can be a potential killer for older people, both in terms of hypothermia and slips and falls,” he explained.

“Dressing warmly with several light layers of clothing; moving beds or chairs away from cold exterior walls, eating properly, taking regular warm drinks and staying active can all help people minimise the risk of hypothermia. If you know an older person living on their own, keep an eye out for them while the weather is bad.

Dr Gerlis added: “If you have a slip or fall on the ice and feel your need medical assistance, it is worth considering the Urgent Care Centre on the Princess Alexandra Hospital site, Harlow, open daily from 8am-10pm, before visiting A&E.”

He reminded people that the accident and emergency department at Princess Alexandra Hospital should only be used for critical or life-threatening situations requiring medical attention, such as loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, suspected broken bones, persistent chest pain, difficulty breathing, overdoses, ingestion or poisoning.

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“If you think immediate treatment by paramedics is needed, call 999 for an emergency ambulance,” Dr Gerlis added.