Local NHS sees influx of respiratory-related conditions due to hot weather


Leading doctors from the NHS in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are warning people to stay safe in the sun, following a weekend that saw many unprepared for the hot weather.

On Sunday 11 June, when local temperatures peaked in the mid-to-high 20s, more than 130 people attended the emergency department at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon with either breathlessness or shortness of breath.

Medics believe the cause was the weekend’s extremely humid and, often, thundery weather.

And with the warm conditions set to last for the remainder of this week, frontline staff at the hospital are urging people to seek the correct and appropriate help when feeling unwell.

Dr Steven Haig, Consultant Emergency Physician, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have seen very high numbers of patients arriving at hospital with symptoms of respiratory conditions, which include shortness of breath, wheezing and other hay-fever-related symptoms.

“The hospital is currently very busy, and this means there are long waits to be seen while we treat those with very serious and life-threatening conditions, and we are expecting this demand to continue into the week.

“We ask that anybody experiencing shortness of breath, wheezing and hay-fever-related symptoms to contact NHS 111 in the first instance, which can signpost people to the best place for their healthcare needs.

“Some of the patients who have come to hospital in recent days would have been seen quicker, with all the right treatment plans, in another healthcare setting, such as a GP practice or community pharmacy.”

Those suffering from seasonal hay-fever, which can heighten the symptoms of asthma, are also reminded to take necessary steps to stay well over the coming days.

These include staying indoors during periods of very humid weather, as well as during thunderstorms, avoiding grassy areas where pollen levels are high, keeping an inhaler nearby and taking regular antihistamines.

Similarly, all people, and especially young children and those who are older, should take extra care to look after themselves in the sun this week.

Drinking plenty of water when out and about, as well as wearing loose-fitting clothing and applying a high-factor suncream to any exposed skin, can help to reduce the chance of developing sun-related conditions, such as heat exhaustion and dehydration.

People who develop symptoms linked to heatstroke, such as not being able to cool down after 30 minutes in the shade, having a very high temperature or feeling confused and disorientated, should either call 999 or visit their nearest hospital without delay.

More information about staying safe in the sun can be found on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health, while details of local health and care services are available from www.bswtogether.org.uk/yourhealth.