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Bury St Edmunds: People urged to stay safe in the sun after last weekend’s hot weather prompts busiest-ever day at West Suffolk Hospital A&E

10:00 26 July 2014

Ambulances outside West Suffolk Hospital

Ambulances outside West Suffolk Hospital

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Health chiefs have issued a warning ahead of another warm weekend after last week’s sunshine left West Suffolk Hospital’s A&E department feeling the heat.

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The hospital’s emergency department endured its first and third busiest-ever days last weekend as the hot weather caused an unprecedented number of admissions, from patients suffering breathing difficulties and chest pains through to large numbers tripping and falling while enjoying themselves outdoors.

Suffolk is set to enjoy another glorious weekend of weather, but the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has urged people to take care in the sun and keep themselves out of A&E – as backed by the East Anglian Daily Times’s Make the Right Call campaign.

CCG chairman Dr Christopher Browning said: “Heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm.

“These include older people, babies and young children, and people with a serious chronic condition, particularly breathing or heart problems – so looking out for other people is important at this time.”

Yesterday’s board of directors meeting at West Suffolk Hospital heard that 450 people passed through A&E last weekend, with 400 patients typically seen as a “really busy” weekend.

“Our last four or five days have probably been as difficult as I have known here,” said Jon Green, the hospital’s chief executive operating officer.

“Having had a weekend like that, we admitted another 79 patients across our beds. If you think that our bed base is 400ish, that is a huge hit we’ve taken.

“We have really been under the cosh, I think is how you’d describe it.”

Mr Green added that the hospital had been “pretty much full” ever since, with every single available bed in the hospital open this week and agency staff being drafted in to man the wards.

The hospital’s new medical director, Dr Pam Chrispin, added: “Hot weather like this always sends them pouring through the doors – it’s always worse than a cold winter.”

Directors agreed that the surge in admissions was heat related, with likely causes given as people with existing conditions suffering in the heat as well as trips and falls while people were out and about.

Dr Chrispin added that the Latitude Festival may also have had an impact.

Other advice issued by the CCG includes wearing a hat and light, loose clothing; keeping hydrated, and staying out of the sun during the hottest hours of 11am-3pm.

People should contact their doctor, a pharmacist or NHS 111 if they are worried about their health during a heatwave as a first port of call.

Entitled Make the Right Call, the 12-week campaign was launched by the EADT to help people make the right decision when it comes to healthcare.

The aim is to help relieve some of the pressures on our hospitals’ emergency departments by pointing people towards other services.

That could be achieved by self-caring at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet, seeking advice from a pharmacist, visiting your GP or calling NHS 111 – to get the fastest treatment in the most appropriate location.

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