Concern Welsh NHS will come under ‘great stress’ amid extreme heat warning
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS has written to the Welsh Health Minister to raise concerns over A&E capacity and patient welfare during the extreme heat predicted for the coming week.
With temperatures in Wales predicted to reach over 35 degrees and possibly 40+ along the border with England there is a concern A&E departments could be overwhelmed and patients could be left waiting in the heat.
An amber weather warning of extreme heat has been announced for Wales by the Met Office for Monday and Tuesday but a red warning comes within a few hundred feet of the borders of Flintshire and Wrexham.
Wales is “highly likely” to see its hottest ever day tomorrow, MeteoGroup has warned. Its forecasts show large parts of the east of the east of Wales breaking through the 35.5 celsius record set in Hawarden, Flintshire in August 1990.
Monmouthshire is set for the highest temperatures of all at 38 celsius.
“The NHS in Wales is already under great stress, even before COVID and the extreme heat warning,” Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said.
“While we all of course have a personal responsibility to do our bit and avoid placing unnecessary strain on the NHS at this time by staying hydrated and taking sensible precautions against the heat, but it is also important that the Government and Welsh Health Boards take action to mitigate against potential risks to patient safety.
“A&E patients are regularly having to wait hours in ambulances outside busy hospitals or in corridors inside hospitals. Obviously, in the extreme heat, this would raise significant concerns for patient welfare.
“We recognise the pressures the extreme heat will not only have on patients, but also on medical and support workers.
“In the bigger picture, the extent of the extreme heat predicted shows the terrifying impact climate change is having on our lives. We must continue to go further and faster to work towards a zero-carbon economy and to put in place mitigation measures, for example, increased tree coverage in urban areas.”
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales has already urged people to take extra precautions and to plan ahead to keep themselves and others safe as the Met Office warns of extreme heat.
The Amber warning, issued for Sunday 17 July, Monday 18 July and Tuesday 19 July, suggests some parts of east Wales could see temperatures reach early to mid-thirties.
The Welsh Government is working with emergency services, local authorities, schools and businesses to keep the public safe during the Met Office warning period.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales (DCMO) Chris Jones said: “Extreme heat warnings are not issued lightly by the Met Office and the potential health risks need to be taken seriously.
“Very high temperatures can be dangerous for everyone but elderly people, children, those with chronic health problems and vulnerable people who may struggle to keep cool are at a higher risk.
“Demand on NHS Wales and our emergency services is already high so by taking extra precautions to keep ourselves and our families safe, we can all help to reduce pressure on these vital services.
“These temperatures can be particularly worrying for vulnerable or elderly people so I would also urge people to check in on neighbours and relatives to make sure they are keeping as cool as possible as the temperature rises.”
To protect yourselves and others:
- Stay hydrated – drinking water is vital as your body loses more fluid in higher temperatures.
- Plan ahead and stay in the shade – it is best to avoid the hottest part of the day between midday and 3pm and avoid doing strenuous outdoor activities between these times.
- Wear sunglasses and sun protection – sunscreens or sun blocks will help to prevent sunburn.
- To keep your home cool, turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment and keep rooms shaded by closing blinds and curtains.
- Do not leave young children, elderly people or pets in parked cars as temperatures inside can soar.
- While the temptation to cool off may be high, be careful around open water including river and lakes and supervise children.
- Wear loose fitting clothing and a hat if outdoors.
If you are worried about any symptoms related to heat visit the NHS 111 website – 111.wales.nhs.uk – to check your symptoms or call 111 for advice.
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