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East Lancashire doctors ready for festive rush
12:00pm Thursday 26th December 2013 in News
CHRISTMAS Day may be over, but for medical professionals in East Lancashire, their festive rush is just beginning.
Many people who fall ill over Christmas do not visit a doctor until Boxing Day or later, and hospitals and doctors surgeries are at their busiest in the days immediately after Christmas.
One doctor who has been working over the festive period is GP Zaki Patel, who is based at Brookhouse Medical Centre, Whalley Range, Blackburn.
He said: “We used to close during the bank holidays - Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, but the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has got some practices to work over these holidays to reduce pressure on A&E.
“People don’t want to be queueing in A&E or going to an out of hours service during Christmas, but this gives people somewhere to go where they know the GP, know the practice, where they can have booked appointments and don’t have a long wait.
“The idea is it will stop people from waiting to see a GP and getting more ill.”
The move is also designed to ease pressure on GP services in the period immediately after Christmas, when they are traditionally very overstretched.
Dr Patel said: “We have more appointments after Christmas too, with additional GPs working, just to cater for additional patients that we normally get.”
Kim Brown is a ward manager at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) at Royal Blackburn Hospital.
She has also been working over Christmas, and is similarly expecting the hospital to be busiest now, in the days just after Christmas Day.
Kim said: “We’re busier just after the bank holidays, we do see an increase then because some people try to hold off over Christmas and Boxing Day.
“High activitiy for us starts on Boxing Day.”
And it is not just health workers who have been working over Christmas - social care services have also been busy keeping vulnerable residents safe and well.
Sharon Hodgkinson, registered reablement manager at Blackburn with Darwen council, said: “At Christmas referrals go up and people tend to be discharged from hospital quicker, you’ve got all the extra Christmas traffic to contend with and obviously the weather too.
“Staff end up cold, wet, and sometimes snowed on – they have to deal with everything.
“You’d think people wouldn’t want to work on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day but I’ve never once had any problem covering the shifts. We just get on with it. It’s a really tough job both physically and mentally.”
Coun Mohammed Khan, the council’s executive member for health and adult social care, said: “All of the borough’s social care workers do a wonderful job. No matter whether it’s Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day – if the weather’s bad or not, they’re there to help some of our most vulnerable residents.
“Our workers are some of these residents’ main point of contact and the extra package of special winter measures will help keep vitally important services going.”
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