We understand that winter is a challenging time for the NHS, so with the news that Britain is about to face its harshest winter in years with below-freezing temperatures and snow heading our way (as reported here), we think it’s vital everyone is prepared for the extra strain of winter pressures.
In 2015, there were 44,000 unnecessary deaths as a result of cold weather between December and March, with the average temperature being 6.2C.
Every year hospitals across the country struggle with the extra pressure that the change of season brings. In fact, worryingly the British Medical Association has shown that 78% of doctors believe that the ability for the NHS to cope with this crucial time is the lowest it has been in the last three years.
The cold weather is known to mainly affect the elderly and vulnerable including young children and the chronically ill. This combined with the frequent amount of falls due to snow and ice and the amount of people catching the flu and influenza leads to increased pressures on the NHS.
If you’re worried about someone you know being affected by the cold weather please read ‘7 Ways To Keep The Elderly And Vulnerable Safe During Winter’ here.
Of course, we understand that the demand over the winter season is inevitable, however, there are steps that the NHS can take to ease the pressure on their staff and in turn improve the overall health care for their patients.
The media often talks about ‘bed blocking’. This term refers to patients who would like to go home but for one reason or another, need to stay in a hospital until the appropriate home care can be sourced.
There can be any number of reasons for a delay in discharge from hospital but one is where care professionals are concerned an elderly patient may need pressure care if they are unable to move easily.
Increasingly, community nurses are looking to find turning solutions for patients that can be used in their own home. Patient turners, such as the Ekamove, is an automated patient turning system, which can be used without the intervention of a healthcare professional.
The Ekamove is also whisper quiet, meaning the patient will not be woken up and will be able to rest undisturbed.
As patients are less tired, this means they have a better night’s sleep which in turn raises their immunity and stops them from catching a cold or flu.
“A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived and inflammatory cytokines go up. This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.”
Diwakar Balachandran, MD, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas
It’s also important to keep staff healthy as any gap in staff rotas due to sickest can be an added pressure and an extra cost to hospitals because if the need to turn to costly agency staff to cope. It, therefore, may be a good idea for nurses to consider having the flu jab as well.
For more information on the Ekamove and how it can help you ease winter pressures to the NHS, get in touch here.