Welcome to the first entry of the ‘Get wise in winter’ blog from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST). The blog will be written by a small group of people from across the Trust, both in operational and clinical roles, and we hope you find it informative and helpful.
Remember, remember your wellness in December
Gary Morgan, Head of Performance, kicks us off…..
“Part of my job is to analyse the performance of the Trust’s operations and review the effects it has had, and will have. The winter pressure period often results in increases in 999 calls for medical emergencies to those patients with long–term conditions and cold snaps (particularly prolonged periods of cold weather combined with increased circulation of respiratory related viruses) can turn a patient’s chronic but otherwise stable condition into something more serious, requiring additional assessment and/or treatment.
This often happens immediately when the colder weather begins and then again around five-10 days later, resulting in increased activity in the health economy – access points such as A&E or assessment units come under pressure and there can be increased delays at hospital which are managed via local and regional policies. As a Trust, we also signal this to the local health communities to encourage pre-emptive contact with vulnerable patients.
The other significant factors are non-weather related – shopping behaviour, in particular the three Saturdays/Sundays prior to Christmas, and people going out more, particularly the weekend prior to Christmas itself.
From about mid to late December there’s about a 15% increase in activity, and an increase in calls from people with breathing problems and activity spikes are also linked to particular weather factors such as icy roads/freezing rain/snow. We manage these in line with short-term measures, mainly thanks to weather forecasts. The Trust deploys its seasonal plan in response to this, which includes the use of four-wheel drive vehicles.
Established and additional resourcing for the likely dates affected e.g. putting in more resources when necessary, is one way we can manage winter pressures but by ‘getting wise in winter’ we can all play our part in reducing the impact on emergency services at this time of year.”