UK heatwave: Sussex health and care leaders urge people to stay safe in the extreme heat

Sussex health and care leaders are urging everyone to stay safe during the extreme heat and to use the right services for their needs if they do become ill.

All health services in Sussex are currently experiencing high levels of demand, and there significant numbers of people attending emergency departments and being admitted to hospital.

Last week, the ambulance trust across the region - SECAmb - handled more than 18,500 999 calls, and the hot weather is expected to see demand increase further.

That’s why Sussex Health and Care Partnership is asking for the public’s support so it can best support those who are in the greatest need of help and care.

Last week, the ambulance trust across the region - SECAmb - handled more than 18,500 999 calls, and the hot weather is expected to see demand increase further.

This week the UK Health Security Agency issued a Heat-health watch alert level 3 for the region meaning that there is heightened health risks to residents and visitors this week and weekend.

Hotter weather typically results in an increase in calls to the ambulance service and use of NHS services relating to dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Higher temperatures can also seriously affect people with long-term health issues such as heart conditions or high blood pressure.

A spokesperson for the Sussex Health and Care Partnership said: “We are working hard across health and care services to make sure we can continue to provide the best possible care for those who need NHS help while demand on services is currently very high and the heat continues.

“All health services have had a very busy week and we expect demand to remain high, especially with the hotter weather forecast to last. We are asking everyone to be sensible, to look after themselves and to know what to do if they do need NHS help this weekend.

“We urge residents and visitors to do everything this can to stay safe in the heat and look out for vulnerable people including older people and the very young who can be seriously affected by the heat.

“If you do need NHS help, please use the right NHS service for your needs - only use A&E or ED if it is an emergency.

“We would like to thank all health and care staff who are working incredibly hard at this busy time to make sure people can get the help and support they need as quickly as possible.”

Sussex health and care leaders are offering some simple tips to stay safe in the heat:

· Look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions.

· Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.

· Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately for the weather and slow down when it is hot.

· Be on the lookout for signs of heat related illness - common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

· Cool your skin with water, slow down and drink water. Use NHS 111 by phone or online, or in an emergency dial 999.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at UKHSA, said: “Heat-health alerts have now been issued to the majority of the country, with temperatures set to remain consistently high throughout the duration of this week.

“Most of us can enjoy the hot weather when it arrives, but it is important to keep yourself hydrated and to find shade where possible when UV rays are strongest, between 11am and 3pm.

“If you have vulnerable family, friends and neighbours, make sure they are aware of how they can keep themselves protected from the warm weather.’’

If you need help and it isn’t an emergency, people are being asked to use NHS 111 online or by phone in the first instance – they can advise, support and direct to the most appropriate service 24 hours a day.

For those who do need help, across Sussex, walk-in and minor injury services, and urgent treatment centres are available to help:

· Brighton walk in service open 8am-8pm every day

· Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, Minor Injury Unit open 8am-8pm every day

· Crowborough Minor Injury Unit open 8am-8pm every day

· Uckfield Minor Injury Unit open 8am-8pm every day

· Lewes Urgent Treatment Centre open 8am-8pm every day

· Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital MIU open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday

· Crawley Hospital UTC open 24/7