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Heatwave puts A&E staff under huge strain in July

Thursday 9th August 2018
Nurses in Accident and Emergency units across England had their busiest July on record because of incidents related to the heatwave.
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Accident and Emergency (A&E) units in hospitals across England faced the greatest pressure on record last month, partly because of the heatwave, according to NHS England. 

In a release of a range of facts and figures, NHS England stated there were nearly 2.2 million visits to A&E units last month - the highest July figure since records began in 2010. 

The survey found that hospitals across the country saw admissions rise due to an increase in cases of dehydration, heart failure and kidney problems caused by the excessive heat. 

Other common summer issues include sunstroke and severe sunburn. 

The figure was nearly 100,000 higher than the same month in 2017 and placed nursing and other staff under considerable strain, as they dealt with the increased patient workload. 

Director of nursing policy and practice at the Royal College of Nursing Donna Kinnair said: “This summer’s heatwave has hit healthcare services hard. With rising A&E attendance and admissions, hospitals up and down the country are now seeing winter conditions in summer, putting extra pressure on services that have barely recovered from the cold weather, earlier this year.

"Nurses are seeing more cases of heart failure, renal failure and dehydration - all conditions linked to hotter weather."

Noting that the elderly are at the greatest risk, she added that "understaffed services are struggling to cope" with the extra demand, and called on the new health secretary Mike Hancock to make boosting A&E resources a priority when he is handed the planned extra £20 billion of funding. 

The issue of extra summer admissions may be a pressing concern for nurses and other health service staff if climate change causes summers like the current one to become the norm. 

Indeed, erratic weather of various kinds could lead to a rise in admissions, with excessive cold such as that seen as late as March - when the 'Beast from the East' brought freezing temperatures and snow - also impacting on people's health. 

Written by James Puckle

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