Surge in A&E visitors as heatwave grips Doncaster

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Emergency department staff have been praised for coping with a surge in patients arriving at Doncaster Royal Infirmary as a result of the summer heatwave.

Weather that has seen high temperatures and little rain since June have resulted in figures that would normally be only expected during winter, the NHS's traditional peak time for the emergency departments.

Doncaster Royal Infirmary. PIcture: Matt McLennan

Doncaster Royal Infirmary. PIcture: Matt McLennan

Broken bones due to people enjoying outdoor pursuits in the sun and respiratory issues have soared, leading to a warning from hospital officials for people to only come to the department in a genuine emergency.

David Purdue, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer at the Trust, said: "Over the past few months, and throughout the period of warm weather, we have seen increased attendance within our Emergency Departments.

"As you may expect when the sun comes out and it's nice to be outside, we have seen a rise in broken bones, incidence of hay fever and other related illness and injury.

"Despite this busy period, our staff have performed remarkably well ensuring our patients receive the highest quality care and treatment. I want to thank each and every one of them for their hard work.

"As ever, I want to remind local people to only come to the Emergency Department when it's an emergency”

The Trust saw 14,859 attendances in June, which is 664 more than in June 2017. It also saw 15,345 attendances in May, which is 956 more than in May 2017 and 943 more than April 2018. Despite the pressures, the department saw 94.9 per cent of patients within four hours in June and 94.6 per cent in May, just marginally outside the 95 per cent target. July figures are not yet available but are also believed to be high.

GPs are also seeing the effect of the heatwave

Dr Dean Eggitt, a Cantley GP and secretary of the Doncaster Local Medical Committee, said: "Over this period of hot weather we have seen an increase in presentation in the more complex frail and elderly patients. The type of illnesses that have increased presentations in hot weather include exacerbations of heart failure, asthma, COPD, kidney impairment and gout. We have also seen an increase in patients collapsing.

"Thankfully we have seen much fewer patients with minor self limiting illnesses than usual which has created some capacity for us to deal with the complex patients."

Hospital bosses are urging people only to go the emergency department in a genuine emergency.

They say:

* A lot of illnesses or symptoms can be treated in your home by using a well-stocked medicine cabinet and by getting plenty of rest.

* NHS 111 offers confidential health advice and information over the phone.

* Pharmacists in chemist shops can give advice on common illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them.

* Your own GP is the best person to speak to about persistent health problems and illnesses that won’t go away.

* The Minor Injuries Unit at Montagu Hospital which is open 9am to 9pm can assess and treat minor injuries and ailments, including sprains, cuts and bruises, and some simple fractures.

The DRI is also currently seeing a rise in to 15 to 30 year old attendees. Working with partners at Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, the hospital will engaging with this group to understand the cause. Log onto https://www.dbth.nhs.uk/news/ed/ to find an online survey