Cold snap spells broken bones for 100 Brighton patients

Posted On 21 Dec 2009 at 11:54 pm

For dozens of people in Brighton and Hove the cold snap was literally just that.
A hundred patients are awaiting surgery for broken bones after falling on ice covered streets.
The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Kemp Town treated hundreds of patients over the worst of the snowy spell.
Five accident and emergency (A&E) consultants worked through the weekend instead of the usual one as hundreds of patients poured into the Royal Sussex.
Hospital chiefs declared it a major incident and a spokesman said: “This has included running four trauma operating lists today, and for the rest of the week, instead of the normal two per day.”
All non-urgent work has been cancelled, she said, and the priority was to discharge as many people as safely possible.
She praised the dedication of staff as many turned up for work on days off and, in some cases, during their annual leave.
The Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust website carried a plea which said: “All BSUH staff who can safely travel are asked to do their utmost to get to work.
“If you cannot make it to your usual place of work, please report to the site office at the hospital nearest to your home.”
In the event, the spokesman said: “We’ve been really pleased. People have come in when they haven’t been due to.”
She said that the trust hoped that by doubling the usual number of operating theatres dealing with surgery to broken bones that as many patients as possible would be home by Christmas.
The trust also hoped that the Royal Sussex would then also be better placed to cope over Christmas with the staffing levels that had been scheduled.
The response of Brighton and Hove City Council, however, came in for criticism from at least two councillors and many members of the public.
Paul Elgood, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Brunswick and Adelaide, and Ben Duncan, the Green councillor for Queen’s Park, both reflected residents’ concerns on their blogs.
Cllr Duncan said: “According to Help the Aged and Age Concern many older residents who break a limb in a fall never fully recover.
“Brighton and Hove City Council is working hard to keep the roads open, both for traffic and the emergency vehicles having to rush around helping all the casualties, but many residents are feeling a little left out in the cold – literally – by the council’s failure to grit side streets and pavements, especially in residential areas and outside the shopping centre.
“The priority for everyone now must be getting the streets and pavements passable again, and ensuring all residents, especially those who are older or otherwise especially vulnerable, are ok.
“When the thaw has come and gone we’ll need some serious scrutiny into the council’s response to this entirely predicted cold snap.
“Of course the council can’t control the weather, but it can control its response to it – and, crucially, how much money it spends on ensuring we are all safe and well in winter.
“I hope some lessons are learned – they clearly weren’t last time.”
Cllr Elgood said: “Whilst I applaud what they (the council) are doing, I have to ask if they realise how little impact their efforts are having?
“The pavements are lethal now and I am getting complaint after complaint from residents.
“I’ve been raising this, but it seems only a rise in temperature will sort this out now.”
The council said: “We understand the frustrations of residents who have been faced with treacherous conditions during this particularly severe freeze.
“All of our gritting lorries and ploughs have been working round the clock during the weekend to clear the main roads.
“We also have 350 salt bins on pavements around the city.
“However, it is not possible to keep all 3,000 of the city’s roads free from ice and snow in the hours immediately following a severe freeze.
“Instead, busy bus routes and roads into key sites, such as hospitals, are prioritised so that economic and social activity can continue in the city.”
The annual Burning the Clocks – to mark the winter solstice – was cancelled because of safety fears. Many people turned up at the seafront in Brighton unaware that it wouldn’t be going ahead.

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