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Kent health services preparing for New Year surge

By Ellis Stephenson

As thousands of us prepare to party into the New Year, nurses, doctors and consultants are bracing themselves for one of the busiest nights of the year.

One of the worries which is sure to keep them on their toes is the likelihood of an influx of patients visiting A&E over the New Year.

Several schemes have also been introduced to make sure people get the right care at the right time.

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Health trusts are under increasing pressure
Health trusts are under increasing pressure

The South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) is also preparing for an increase in calls.

SECAmb's operating unit manager for North Kent, Will Bellamy, said: "During these busy times we plan for it by mapping our forecast so we have additional vehicles and staff coming in as well as staff from the voluntary sector.

"We do expect the New Year period to be very, very busy for us.

"The public can expect that we won't be sending ambulances to less serious calls and we'll be asking them to seek alternative arrangements such as contacting the NHS 111 service.

"However we'll be working tirelessly for the sick and injured.

"A variety of calls will be going to us New Year's Eve, for us our normal calls will be the life-threatening emergencies and we'll also have some calls that are alcohol related."

And the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has announced it had its busiest Christmas ever in A&E.

Acting chief executive, Jim Lusby, said: "I’d like to thank staff for their hard work in ensuring we continued to deliver care for patients visiting our A&Es over the Christmas 24-hour period.

"We saw record levels of activity in our emergency departments and both hospitals were extremely busy.

"Demand for our services has continued to remain very high over the past week.

Medway Hospital
Medway Hospital

"I’d like to encourage people over the coming days to use our emergency departments wisely and to make sure they’re seeking the right NHS service appropriate for their healthcare needs."

This is while the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust has said it may see a demand on services but it thinks staff will be able to cope.

A statment said: "Demand on all emergency services over the festive period can be challenging, Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust use a Winter Escalation Plan to cope with any increase in activity.

"If anyone is feeling unwell this New Year, please think carefully about where to go for advice and treatment.

"The Emergency Department at Darent Valley Hospital will be very busy over this period and there are a number of other options available including Minor Injury Units and Urgent Care Centres.

"For non-emergencies or out of hours GP’s telephone NHS 111."

Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford was built by Carillion
Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford was built by Carillion

Meanwhile, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is urging people to consider if they need to go to A&E in the first place or if a pharmacy or minor injuries unit might be a better place to get the help they need.

Medical director, Dr Paul Stevens, said: "By getting to know where your local minor injury units are, you can get faster treatment for a wide range of illnesses and injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, minor cuts, wounds, insect and animal bites, eye injuries and burns and scalds.

"This will also keep the emergency departments free for patients with life-threatening conditions."

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