Christmas is a busy time of year for our hospitals.
Burns from hot ovens and cut fingers from sharp carving knives, are just some of the injuries which nurses at the minor injuries unit and urgent care centre at Whitworth Hospital are ready to see on Christmas Day.
The unit’s top nursing team will be on standby – as usual – 24 hours a day to cope with the hidden health hazards of the festive season, as well as the everyday problems they treat for the other 364 days of the year.
Matron Melissa Dalton, who heads up Whitworth’s minor injuries unit and urgent care centre in Darley Dale, said: “Child safety can be an issue, with lots of new pieces of equipment in the house on Christmas Day, more people and alcohol around as families get together, and children may not get the supervision they need.
“If a child – or anyone else - has a bump or other injury, parents can pick up the phone to us if they have had a drink and aren’t sure they can easily get to the unit.
“We can tell them if the problem needs to be dealt with straight away or if it can wait until they can drive. We can also give first aid advice and reassurance, such as running a burn under the cold tap for ten minutes not just a few seconds.”
Ear, nose and throat problems, like earache and tonsillitis, can often flare up at Christmas, as people wind down from busy pre-Christmas activities at school and work. Colds and flu symptoms are a routine seasonal hazard, as germs have ideal opportunities to spread at Christmas parties, when lots of people are gathered together indoors.
Stocking up the medicine cabinet at home with over-the-counter remedies should be on everyone’s pre-holiday To Do List, advises Melissa.
“It is especially important to make sure you have full bottles of in-date Calpol or a similar pain and fever relief for children.
“Checking the use-by dates on the medicines in your cabinet is also a good idea. You should really prepare your medicines over the Christmas break in the same way that you would if you were going away on holiday,” she said.
With many families having grandparents and other visitors to stay over the Christmas break, the minor injuries unit/urgent care centre also provides a vital lifeline if non-residents should fall ill when in Derbyshire staying with family.
“Families can be reassured that if their 80-year-old grandmother suffers a fall or feels unwell while staying with them, we can provide advice and treatment. Even if we can’t resolve the problem ourselves we will be able to give advice about whether someone needs to go to an accident and emergency department,” added Melissa.
The minor injuries unit and urgent care centre is not able to issue repeat prescriptions, but staff can prescribe antibiotics if they are necessary.
The type of problems the centre can treat includes: minor infections and rashes, strains and sprains, cuts and bruises, bites and stings, minor burns, wound infections and eye injuries, coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms, possible broken bones, skin complaints, men’s and women’s health problems, emergency contraception, advice on staying healthy and information on local services.
No appointment is necessary and patients will be assessed by an experienced nurse.