Spike in patients attending A&E after falls

Icy pavement

Icy pavement

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More than half of patients seen at East Surrey Hospital’s A&E over a two hour stretch this morning had suffered falls during the cold weather.

With the exceptionally icy conditions today, doctors are warning residents that the best place to get care after slips, trips and falls is their local urgent care centre or minor injury unit.

The accident and emergency department at the Redhill hospital saw 32 people in two hour stretch this morning, 17 of whom had suffered falls with a potential injury.

Amit Bhargava, lead GP for NHS Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “With unprecedented levels of demand from a high number of seriously ill people at our Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments across the local area, choosing the right place for treatment has never been more important.

“With the wet, cold and extremely icy weather conditions our A&Es have already seen an increase in the number of people attending with sprains, strains and sometimes broken bones – the vast majority of these people could have been cared for at the Urgent Care Centre or a Minor Injury Unit.”

If you need help fast after a fall, Crawley Urgent Care Centre (open 24/7) at Crawley Hospital, or the Minor Injury Units at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead and at Horsham Hospital treat most injuries that are urgent but not life-threatening.

The Crawley Urgent Care Centre also incorporates the urgent GP walk-in service for patients with a minor injury or medical condition that is not life-threatening but needs to be seen, or those who are unable to get an urgent appointment with their GP.

- The Urgent Care Centre (at Crawley Hospital) (open 24/7) treats most injuries or illnesses that are urgent but not life threatening. For example chest infections, sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds, minor head and eye injuries, bites and stings. You do not need to book an appointment – just turn up and you will be seen promptly by either a doctor or nurse. We provide an initial assessment and treatment of patients who would benefit from immediate care to improve their symptoms and reduce the need for an admission into an acute hospital. We refer patients onto the specialist team who require accident and emergency (A&E) care or speciality care.

- The East Grinstead MIU (at Queen Victoria Hospital, open 8am-7:30pm every day) is run by emergency nurse/care practitioners. The unit is able to see, diagnose and treat a wide range of minor injuries and ailments for both adults and children over one year old, such as minor head injuries with no loss of consciousness, minor burns and scalds, limb injuries, simple eye infections, cuts and grazes, bites and stings, ear and throat infections and skin infections.

- The Horsham MIU (at Horsham Hospital, open 9am and 5pm, Mon-Fri excl. bank holidays) can treat acute limb injuries including fractures, wounds, sprains and strains (excluding potential hip or thigh fractures); minor head injuries including wounds to head and face (excluding children under one year and those with associated neck injury, loss of consciousness or any vomiting); wounds caused by trauma; foreign bodies in eyes, ear or nose; rib injuries; minor back injuries (excluding chronic conditions or major trauma); insect and animal bites and stings; burns and scalds.

Dr Bhargava added: “Our minor injuries units and urgent care centre are able to see, diagnose and treat a wide range of minor injuries for both adults and children over one year old - such as wounds, limb injuries, cuts and grazes and more. X-Rays and other tests to diagnose can be done on site.”

Following three simple steps to take extra precaution in the cold weather can help prevent slips, trips and falls:

1. Change the surface: Spread sand or salt on icy surfaces on walkways, work areas, and steps. Consider putting the activity off until conditions improve if the weather is really bad. Keep steps and equipment clean and dry. Take the time to clean off mud, snow, and ice.

2. Change your shoes: Wear shoes or boots with a flat, low heel, a slip-resistant sole to reduce slipping hazards and a good tread that helps to grip the surface.

3. Change your walk: Walk slowly and carefully

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