Bank Holiday heatwave could fill hospitals to 'bursting', medics warn

Henry Bodkin
The NHS is already widely failing to meet its A&E target - COPYRIGHT : JULIAN SIMMONDS

Hospitals could be “full to bursting” by Monday evening, senior medics have warned as Britain experiences its forecast hottest August Bank Holiday ever.

Record heat combined with a day off for GPs and carers are expected to cause long queues in A&E, according to the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM).

Parts of England - mainly the South East - are expected to react 32 degrees celsius on Sunday, exceding the 2001 Bank Holiday record of 31.5, while much of the rest of the country will enjoy temperatures in the high 20s.

Hot weather brings added risk for the elderly, however, as well as those with respiratory and other conditions.

The NHS is already widely failing to meet its targets to treat patients arriving at emergency departments within four hours, and medical leaders have already warned this summer that hospital buildings do not function well in the heat.

Now SAM president Dr Nick Scriven warns the lack of support services on Monday could tip A&E departments into chaos.

“As with any period of weather at either extreme it brings extra pressure on emergency and urgent care services,” he told The Telegraph.

“As we have seen before, many of our hospitals are not designed to cope with high temperatures further making it hard for staff and harder for patients.

“This week could see pressure on the system even higher as it coincides with the bank holiday during which a lot of the "normal" supporting services will not be working. 

“By Monday evening I could easily see our hospitals full to bursting and long queues in Emergency Departments for all those who attend.”

The Met Office has warned people to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day as it extended a level three Amber heatwave alert to cover the South East, East of England and East Midlands.

However, Public Health England was criticised for being “banal” and “patronising” on Friday after advising people to avoid drinking too much alcohol over the Bank Holiday.

On Monday, temperatures are likely to be lower than the weekend with the warmest weather becoming confined to the south-east, according to the Met.

It will become increasingly unsettled in the north-west with rain and showers at times.

Approximately one people are expected to attend the Notting Hill Carnival taking place in West London on Sunday and Monday.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of music-lovers have flocked to Reading and Leeds for festivals there.