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Swansea Bay NHS

Common Christmas mishaps and how you can help the NHS help you

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Falling off stepladders while decking the halls, cutting hands while chopping swedes, breaking toes by dropping a frozen turkey on your foot and children getting toy blocks stuck up their nose, are among the common injuries that see people heading to hospital over Christmas.

In fact, more than *80,000 people arrive in the Emergency Department over the festive period due to accidents like these. 

Staff at Swansea Bay University Health Board have put together a list of their most common ‘festive fails’ and advice on how to avoid them and, more importantly, where you should go to get the right help. 

More than 80,000 people in the UK arrive in the Emergency Department for Christmas-related accidents – everything from fairy light burns, children choking on decorations or being poisoned by batteries, falls from step-ladders or chairs, alcohol-related accidents and others. One in 40 people have suffered an electrical shock due to badly wired Christmas lights and 1 in 50 people have fallen from the loft when getting decorations down.

Swansea Bay University Health Board is urging people in the region to ‘help us, help you’ by being careful during their celebrations, but also by knowing where to get the correct help if they do get into difficulties. This can range from visiting the pharmacy, optician or dentist to calling 111 or visiting the Minor Injury Unit at Neath Port Talbot Hospital.

Dr Andrew MacNab, Emergency Department Consultant at Morriston Hospital, said: “We treat people who have fallen from their loft, who have lifted boxes of decorations that are too heavy, who have slipped on spills in the kitchen, or have dropped the turkey on their foot. Seasonal stress, excited children and pets, electrical goods, alcohol and busy kitchens all help to fill the home with Christmas spirit, but they also add extra dangers to our homes. We all like surprises at Christmas, but a trip to the hospital is one we could all do without.

“One of the most important things we can all consider is making sure that if we do have a health issue over the festive period, that we go to the right place for the appropriate care. Our very clear message this season is please help us, help you by tapping into the appropriate help, by consulting your pharmacy, calling 111 or visiting the Minor Injury Unit (MIU) in Neath Port Talbot Hospital. If you have a minor injury, the MIU can treat you, and they generally have far shorter waiting times.

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If you are unwell but it’s not a 999 emergency, you can ring 111 for advice about the right place for the most appropriate care and support. Sometimes, patients will be referred straight to the Emergency Department because of the nature of their illness or injury, so they save a wasted journey and get the right treatment as soon as possible. Sometimes the solution lies on the high street – very often, patients are advised to go to their local pharmacy, optician or dentist.

Dr MacNab adds: “We know some people are nervous about coming to hospital because they are worried about Covid-19 but any delay can make an injury worse. Bear in mind that we all wear appropriate PPE. These are all changed between each patient and all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned down. Don’t delay – if you feel something is wrong, contact us. Remember too that NHS 111 Wales is available, so you can check your symptoms online or give them a call if you need further advice. Let’s all do our bit to stay safe and well this Christmas.”


How to Avoid Becoming a Christmas Statistic 

Swansea Bay University Health Board have put together a guide of the common incidents that occur so you can avoid becoming a Christmas statistic. Follow their guide to keep you and your family safe over the festive season:

Allergies

People with food allergies should take extra care at Christmas, particularly if you are buying special dishes that you aren’t familiar with, or if you are having catering. Check ingredients lists carefully. 

Alcohol

A little sherry whilst cooking is a perk of the chef, but accidents are more likely to happen in the kitchen and the home if you drink too much. Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and perhaps wait until you sit down with a meal before you pour.  Make sure any residual alcohol is emptied out of glasses, so children and pets can’t get to them. 

Choking

Keep glass and fragile decorations out of reach of toddlers and pets, and check toy safety standards. Small parts from gadgets or crackers can be a choking hazard for children.

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Decorations

More than 1,000 people each year are hurt while decorating their Christmas tree according to RoSPA, usually whilst adding the star or the fairy to the top branch. Don’t use unstable chairs or stools – always opt for a step-ladder.

Fairy Lights

350 people a year are injured by Christmas tree lights, either during falls, by electric shocks and burns, or by swallowing the bulbs – they can look like sweets to young children. Test your lights and wiring before you put them up. RoSPA reports that between 1997-2010, 26 people died as a result of watering their Christmas tree with the lights on. Make sure you unplug them first.

Fires

People are 50 percent more likely to die in a house fire at Christmas than at any other time of the year. It is important to keep Christmas cards, paper decorations and the Christmas tree away from candles, fires or heaters, make sure your smoke alarms and your Carbon Monoxide detectors are working, and don’t borrow batteries from your smoke alarm to power a Christmas toy.

Food poisoning

There are around one million cases of food poisoning every year – make sure you defrost and cook your turkey thoroughly. Salmonella poisoning can be life-threatening for some people. Never risk taking short cuts as it takes hours to cook the bird properly.

Kitchen Hazards 

Hot oven trays, boiling water, knives and spills can make the kitchen hazardous, and accidents while preparing Christmas food are common. Burns from hot fat are common, too. Make the kitchen a no-go area for pets and children, wipe up spills swiftly, treat small burns by holding them under tepid running water for 20 minutes, and don’t dig into the wine until you are at the table.

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Stairs 

Falls can be very serious, particularly for the elderly, and strewn toys and wrapping can make stairs and cramped hallways accident hotspots at Christmas. Keep stairs, entrances, exit and hallways clutter-free. 

Plants

Holly and mistletoe might add festive romance, but their berries are toxic. Choose non-toxic Christmas foliage, or keep them away from children and pets. 

Batteries and magnets

Many Christmas novelty items will have small button batteries that are easily accessible to children. They can cause internal bleeding or perforation. Small magnets can also cause bowel perforation. Check that all batteries and magnets are secured inside toys, remote controls and novelty cards and gadgets. 

*Data from RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)


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Gardening

Hospital’s flower power proves big success with patients

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A summer of sun and extra flower beds have blossomed into the perfect partnership for patients’ wellbeing at Singleton Hospital.

The recent prolonged sunny spells – the hottest recorded for Wales in 30 years – have provided ideal conditions for hundreds of begonias to bloom.

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This year, the health board has invested in additional raised beds around the hospital to increase the positive impact on the wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors.

Betty Foley has worked at Singleton as a volunteer for over 15 years.

Seeing a large number of patients, staff and visitors during each shift, she has heard a lot of positive patient feedback for the flower features.

She said: “I deal with a large number of patients and visitors coming into Singleton and a lot of them have passed comment on how lovely the flowers look around the hospital.

“A lot arrive through the main reception and they’re welcomed by a really colourful bed of flowers, which can give you a bit of a boost when you’re going into hospital for treatment.

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“I’ve been told countless times recently by patients that they sit in front of the hospital where the benches are and the flowers take their mind off things.

“Small things like that can really make a big difference to your day.”

Christian Berndsen, gardening maintenance, and his team put the bedding plants in at the end of May.

He said: “We’ve used a lot of different types of begonias as they have a variety of bright colours that really catch the eye.

“The flowers have benefited from a great summer of sun.

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Nick Davies, and Christian Berndsen in front of one of the flower beds (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

“I’ve had a lot of comments while we’re around the hospital, which is nice. The intention was to give anyone who uses the hospital a nice, bright collection of flowers to look at around the site.

“Seeing bright flowers such as the begonias can give you a bit of a lift, so it’s been lovely to hear that patients love them as it shows it’s having a positive effect.”

Singleton has also benefited from a wooden sculpture of an oak dragonfly, which features on the Crush Hall roundabout which is situated between the main entrance and the maternity and child health building.

That has been funded by Biophilic Wales and designed by local sculptor Simon Hedger, and adds to a creative corner in the hospital grounds.

Nick Davies, Estates Officer at Singleton Hospital, added: “The flowers and sculpture certainly improves the appearance of the hospital. As we have a lot of patients, visitors and staff coming to this hospital we firmly believe that first impressions are very important.

“If you’re waiting for an appointment or are visiting family or a friend, it’s nice for people to see and offers a little lift. In addition, it’s a natural habitat for small wildlife such as bees and butterflies.

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“Christian and the gardening team have done a great job brightening up areas around the hospital, and we’re really pleased it’s impacted patients in a positive way.”

Lead image: Volunteer Betty Foley, Nick Davies, Estates Officer at Singleton Hospital and Christian Berndsen from gardening maintenance at the Crush Hall roundabout display. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Carmarthenshire

Health boards warn of major computer system outage affecting 111 and out of hours GP services

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Hywel Dda and Swansea Bay University Health Boards have both issued a warning of a major computer outage that is that is used to refer patients from NHS 111 Wales to out-of-hours GP providers.

This system is used by Local Health Boards to coordinate services for patients. The health board say that the ongoing outage is significant and has been far reaching, impacting each of the four nations in the UK.

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Hywel Dda and Swansea Bay say that in response to the outage, health boards and their partners across Wales have developed and deployed plans so services can continue to operate.

They warn that the weekend will be a busier time than usual for NHS 111 Wales, and there are things that the public can do to help as work is done to resolve the issue.

Should the public continue to use 111?

Yes. As always, the public is encouraged to start with online help at 111.wales.nhs.uk where there is trusted health advice and information available, including more than 70 symptom checkers for many ailments and minor injuries.

What will be my experience if calling 111?

The weekend is a high demand period and processes have been put in place to continue to provide services. Capacity is being maximised by the Welsh Ambulance Service who answer 111 calls, and by Local Health Boards who provide the out-of-hours service. It may take longer for calls to be answered and we thank the public for their patience.

What can the public do to help?

Taking steps now to avoid needing to call 111 will #HelpUsHelpYou. If anyone has a medication concern, we encourage them to contact their GP today during working hours. If it is not an urgent concern, you can also speak to your local pharmacist about medications. You can find your GP and pharmacy opening hours at 111.wales.nhs.uk.

If you are calling 111 for health information, we ask people to think carefully about whether the enquiry is urgent. Remember that 111.wales.nhs.uk has lots of trusted health information and is a good source for many questions that you may have about common health concerns, chronic conditions, treatments, mental and physical health and much more.

The health boards say that people should consider the full range of options that are available to them in their local community which could include visiting your pharmacist for minor ailments and medicine matters.

They add that Ambulance and Emergency Departments remain very busy, and stress that it is still important to protect these services and they should continue to be used for life-threatening and serious emergencies only.

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(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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Neath Port Talbot

The doctor will see you now: 21 new consultation rooms open at Neath Port Talbot Hospital

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Swansea Bay health board have announced an extra 21 consultation rooms have been opened in Neath Port Talbot Hospital’s outpatients department to help tackle its 56,000 patient waiting list backlog.

The move has seen the hospital’s Ward G, formerly a mental health ward for older people, undergo a refurbishment to transform the space into the additional outpatient facility.

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Mental health services for older people were recently transferred to Tonna Hospital, which the health board said meant Ward G became available for much-needed outpatient clinic use.

The new outpatient suite is located in a separate building, with its own entrance accessible from car parks, at the back of the hospital.

It will initially house urology and rheumatology clinics – alongside phlebotomy as soon as staff are in place. Eventually the health board hopes to cater for a wider range of outpatients including neuro rehab as well as supporting spinal, orthopaedics and gastro clinics.

The number of patients awaiting an outpatient appointment across Swansea Bay is at an all-time high, with over 56,000 patients waiting for a first appointment at the end of April 2022.

NPT Hospital staff survey one of the new consultation rooms (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

The pandemic has contributed to this volume because so many appointments have been restricted over the past two years. The health board has also repurposed a large proportion of the original Outpatient area in Morriston Hospital to support critical services through Covid-19.

The space is now being permanently used for unplanned, urgent care to treat more people quickly and effectively, in line with the Changing for the Future plans which include Morriston as the centre of excellence for urgent and emergency care.

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Inese Robotham, Swansea Bay’s Chief Operating Officer, said the move at Neath Port Talbot Hospital was part of a much bigger plan to tackle waiting lists. She explained:

“The move is part of our Recovery and Sustainability Plan which identifies a need to improve and transform the way we deliver outpatient services, harnessing digital technology and patient directed care to reduce waiting lists.

“However, there is still a requirement to see patients face to face and therefore, a number of projects to increase capacity are underway. These include the new outpatients facility in Neath Port Talbot Hospital.

“We are aiming to maximise outpatient potential, and are reviewing accommodation across the organisation to ensure maximum utilisation of space and care is delivered at the right place at the right time.”

Temporary signage points to the entrance of the new outpatients ward at the rear of the hospital (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Jessica Jones, a project manager for Swansea Bay’s transformation team, said that the work in Neath Port Talbot Hospital will help address growing waiting lists, with further improvements to come.

She said: “This does not fully re-instate the health board’s pre-Covid capacity but will significantly support specialties in delivering vital outpatient clinics. There are also plans to convert other areas to increase outpatient capacity following the implementation of the acute medical services redesign.

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“More than 40 outpatient clinic rooms were re-purposed for other uses as part of the Covid response, so the additional 21 rooms in Neath Port Talbot Hospital offer much needed capacity to help tackle the waiting list.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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