Concern over hospital access as ice-related injuries on rise
DOCTORS have warned that access to hospitals could become a serious issue as the big chill continues.
GPs have noted a jump in the number of patients attending surgeries with limb fractures and soft tissue injuries after falls on icy roads and footpaths.
Carlow GP Declan Woods said a key concern for medical people, apart from the well-being of elderly citizens, is retaining access to hospitals.
Carlow, for example, is 25 miles from the nearest acute hospital -- St Luke's General Hospital in Kilkenny.
Dr Woods said: "If the roads become much worse, obviously it would become a concern.
"The other issue we would be worried about is the possibility of the hospital becoming over-crowded, although Kilkenny has an extremely good record in relation to that."
Meanwhile, GP house calls are predicted to rise, particularly in rural areas where residents are unable to travel to nearby towns.
Dr Woods also stressed the importance of after-hours medical services, such as the Caredoc facility. "Here in Carlow we have a very effective GP co-op," he said. "It was the first one established in the country and, thus far, we've been able to respond to every call."
The Civil Defence has offered its services to transport doctors nationwide, he said, as ongoing low temperatures continue to impact on areas such as Carlow.
Dr Woods also called on the public to carry out regular checks on older people who live alone to make sure they have enough food and fuel supplies.