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Heatwave disruption: Schools close, hospitals cancel appointments and events are scrapped as UK braces for record temperatures

Travel chaos is on the cards, both over the weekend and beyond. Here passengers queue for ferries at the Port of Dover in Kent on Saturday morning

The country is bracing itself for extreme disruption next week, as forecasters predict possible temperatures of 40C (104F) in parts of the country.

Amid warnings that lives are at risk, a “national emergency” has been declared by the UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office has issued its first-ever red warning for extreme heat.

The heatwave is set to peak on Tuesday, with temperatures climbing over the weekend.

Find out the five-day forecast for where you live

Travel delays as tracks ‘bend and buckle’

People are being urged to avoid all non-essential travel and warned of likely disruption to travel by train and car.

Temperatures will build over this weekend and early next week for much of England and Wales. pic: Met Office
Temperatures will build over this weekend and early next week for much of England and Wales. Pic: Met Office

A No 10 spokesman said railway speed restrictions may be needed on “some parts of the network next week to manage the hot weather and to avoid any potential damage”.

Very hot temperatures can affect rails, overhead power lines and signalling equipment, as well as “bend and buckle” tracks.

Jake Kelly, of Network Rail, warned that journeys will take “significantly longer and delays are likely as speed restrictions are introduced to keep passengers and railway staff safe”.

Train operators, including Transport for London (TfL), are strongly encouraging customers not to travel on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July.

TFL chief operating officer Andy Lord said: “Due to the exceptionally hot weather that is expected next week, customers should only use London’s transport network for essential journeys.

“If customers do need to travel, they should check before they travel as we are expecting there to be some impact to Tube and rail services as a result of temporary speed restrictions we will need to introduce to keep everyone safe.

“It is also vital that customers always carry water at all times with them when travelling.”

Meanwhile, motorists have been advised to try to make their journeys outside of the hottest periods of the day, particularly if they have older cars.

The RAC has warned more drivers will need help as cars overheat, and asked their customers to question whether they really need to make the journey in the first place.

Hospital appointments cancelled

Some hospitals have taken the decision to cancel routine appointments and surgeries due to the risk to both patients and staff due to the predicted extreme heat.

Joe Harrison, CEO of Milton Keynes University Hospital, said on Twitter: “We have taken the decision to stand down routine outpatient appointments and surgery on Monday and Tuesday because many of the patients travelling to these appointments are frail and at increased risk, and due to the unpredictable nature of very high temperatures on demand for emergency care and on care environment.

“We will do all we can to keep wards & departments as cool as possible, but we know this will be a challenge given the very high outside temperature.

“We have solid plans and contingency plans in place and will keep social media channels and our website updated with any changing info.”

With ambulance wait times already on the rise, there have been warnings that things will only worsen during the heatwave, with patients potentially stuck in hot vehicles for hours while waiting for hospital admission.

East Midlands Ambulance Service Director of Operations David Williams warned patients they may face “an extended wait” for an ambulance and urged people to call 999 only as “a last resort”.

NHS data revealed that none of the England’s ambulance services hit crucial response time targets in June.

School closures and sports days cancelled

Some schools in the south of the country may close on Monday and Tuesday due to the extreme weather, and the NEU teaching union has said it will support headteachers taking this decision.

Schools choosing to close their doors have pointed to the potentially dangerous temperatures of classrooms, as well as the risk to both staff and pupils of having to work during the hottest points of day.

Many school sports days scheduled to take place during the hot weather are also being postponed or cancelled.

Some schools have said they will arrange a skeleton staff to keep the buildings open for parents unable to find alternative childcare at short notice.

Some southern nurseries will also be restricting their hours on the hottest days following Public Health England’s guidelines for supporting children in Early Years.

The majority of UK schools are set to break up for the summer holidays later in the week.

Some shops and salons around the country have also advised they will be closing or shutting early on Monday and Tuesday.

Scrapped events

Unprecedented weather conditions have led to many weekend events – including dog shows and summer fetes – being called off, as well as larger scale events at the start of the week.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have called off five meetings – their scheduled fixtures at Beverley and Windsor on Monday and their all-weather cards at Chelmsford and Wolverhampton on Tuesday, along with Southwell’s jumps fixture.

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Arizona hospitals explain how they train for mass casualty events

Arizona hospitals explain how they train for mass casualty events

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – After the 4th of July mass shooting that left seven people dead in an Illinois suburb, medical staff raced to help the dozens of people injured. It’s a reality hospitals train for, including here in the Valley.

HonorHealth partners with law enforcement for disaster drills every year. “We include all levels within the hospital center. So, x-ray, lab, then actually take the patients into surgery suites so we can surge and stress all different levels of the hospitals, instead of just the emergency department,” said John Bartz, Director of Network Operations, Emergency and Public Safety at HonorHealth.

These simulations acknowledge the grim reality that a mass shooting could happen anywhere, at any time. “It has to be hands on training, you can’t just do tabletop exercises. You have to do real-life training scenarios because it does put stress on staff, we try to inoculate them against stress and exposed to the best we can do to what real-life scenario would be,” said Matthew Roadifer, Senior Director of Security Services at HonorHealth.

Dr. Ayan Sen is the chair of critical care at Mayo Clinic and works in the ICU. “We are not a trauma center, but all the more reason that we are prepared for any traumatic incidents including mass shooting and mass casualty events so that everybody gets the best care if unfortunately, events like these happen,” he said.

He says treating patients as soon as possible gives them a higher chance of survival. “We have plans where teams would respond in collaboration with EMS and law enforcement. The time is precious,” Dr. Sen said.

Mayo Clinic also offers ‘Stop the Bleed’ training. It’s open to anyone, and Dr. Sen says it can save someone’s life, especially in situations where there are mass casualties. For more information, click here.

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CCTV footage did not uphold hospital’s version of events

CCTV footage did not uphold hospital's version of events

Enda Craig was taken by ambulance to Letterkenny University Hospital at around 1am on May 11, 2019. He was suffering from atrial fibrillation, a condition that induces an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm. The condition can lead to blood clots. When it strikes, the impact of the faster heartbeat can be extremely frightening. It was his fourth time being admitted for this condition. Mr Craig is 74. At the hospital, he was placed on a trolley in a cubicle behind a curtain to await examination.

Various tests were taken while he was in the cubicle. After thirty-eight minutes, he says the curtain was “pulled back by a female uniformed staff member who entered the cubicle and addressed him aggressively”. This was the clinical nurse manager (CNM) on duty. She told him the cubicle was required for another patient. Mr Craig said he was a patient waiting to be examined. The CNM, according to Mr Craig, asked if he was refusing to leave. He agreed to relocate to a row of seats near the nurse manager’s station. The CNM insists she acted entirely professionally in the exchange.

He was moved to a row of seats near the nurse manager’s station. 

A report compiled by the hospital on what happened thereafter described how Mr Craig “walked up and down the treatment area of the ED (Emergency Department) on a number of occasions passing close to where the CNM was sitting at her desk”. He “stood and leaned towards the CNM and pointed his finger into her face for 34 seconds.” 

CCTV footage

The report, based on CCTV footage stated that the CNM “is seen to recoil backwards and lift her hands in a defensive manner.” There was no audio with the CCTV footage, but the report stated that Mr Craig walked past the nurse’s station nine times over the following 15 minutes which “caused a sense of anxiety among members of the clinical staff present in the ED at that time.” 

The CNM stated: “I was very anxious and upset at the verbal abuse and the intimidation I had felt while [we were] trying our best within our limited resources to care for the patients and others.” 

Mr Craig went home later that morning, his condition having been diagnosed as “low risk”. He made a complaint to the hospital over how he had been treated. The hospital appointed an emergency medicine consultant to investigate the complaint. The consultant compiled a twenty-five page report based on CCTV footage and interviews with a number of witnesses. Mr Craig’s complaint was not upheld and the report presented him as being unreasonable and aggressive. Mr Craig denied this and said that some witnesses had not been interviewed.

There followed a protracted process in which Mr Craig requested a whole raft of documents, many through Freedom of Information. At one point, he received a copy of the CCTV footage. 

“I was later told that I never should have got that,” he says. “But I had put in for a lot of stuff and that came back in some of it.” 

The footage did not correlate with how it had been analysed and presented in the complaint investigation.

Complaint to ombudsman

Mr Craig complained to the Ombudsman over how his case had been dealt with. After another protracted period, the Ombudsman reported back to him last December. “We are not entirely convinced that some of the key comments in the hospital’s initial complaint response to you could be supported by the relevant recorded CCTV footage,” investigator Willie O’Doherty reported to him.

In addition, in response to a number of questions, the hospital informed us that it is unclear as to which witnesses were consulted and on what basis they were chosen. Furthermore, it has emerged that a number of key witnesses were not consulted about the complaint.

The letter went on: “Your calm tenacity – and patience – in pursuing matters and seeking improvements has achieved a positive outcome, not just in terms of you receiving an apology, and the retraction of the initial report, but also in the fact that your complaint has provided an opportunity to put things right for other patients and families.” 

Enda Craig received an apology and his complaint was praised for providing an opportunity to put things right for other patients and families.
Enda Craig received an apology and his complaint was praised for providing an opportunity to put things right for other patients and families.

A spokesperson for the Saolta Hospital group, of which Letterkenny is a member, said that on foot of the Ombudsman’s request, the group is undertaking a review of the hospital’s complaint handling processes.

“Listening to the experiences of those who use our services can provide unique insights into standards of care and offers opportunities to improve the quality and safety of health services in a way that will deliver measurable benefits for patients and service users.” 

Mr Craig has received his apology. His condition has seen him return to the hospital since the fateful night of May 2019.

“I got on fantastic,” he says of the visit. 

Members of staff came in to take a look at me. They must have heard I was the boy who made the complaint, they were tripping over me to look after me. 

“I sent a letter to the hospital afterwards thanking them.”