Londoners urged to take extra care in warm weather

Allergy sufferers and people with chronic respiratory conditions are being urged to keep their necessary medication with them as calls to the ambulance service relating to breathing problems soar during the warm weather.

Yesterday (Monday 15 June) the London Ambulance Service responded to 1,061 emergency calls categorised as immediately life-threatening, compared to 900 the previous Monday (8 June) – an increase of over 17 per cent.

There was a particular increase in the number of patients reporting breathing problems – up 73 per cent from last Monday (170 up to 294 emergency calls). Patients with chronic respiratory conditions and hay fever are more likely to suffer acute symptoms in warm weather.

Assistant Director of Operations Paul Woodrow said: “The last couple of days have been exceptionally busy for both our control room and frontline staff, and as ever our priority will continue to be to respond to patients who are seriously ill or injured.

“Even though it’s not a heat wave, the warmer weather does have a big effect on patients with chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis. These patients should ensure they carry their prescribed reliever medication with them, as well as a record of their daily medicine.

“Allergy sufferers, such as those with hay fever, should also carry a reliever medication with them, such as anti-histamine. These patients should seek any further advice on medication from their pharmacist.

“We would urge anyone with more minor conditions to consider other healthcare options, such as calling NHS Direct or visiting a minor injuries unit, NHS walk-in centre or local pharmacist. If they need to go to hospital for non-emergency treatment, they should use a taxi or get a lift from a friend or relative.”

With higher temperatures set to continue for at least the next few days, Londoners are urged to take the following advice to avoid becoming casualties of the warm weather: 

  • Some people are more at risk from the heat than others – for example, older people, babies and young children, and people with pre-existing medical problems that can affect their breathing
  • Try to keep as cool as possible – wear a hat when sitting or working in direct sunlight and use plenty of suncream
  • If you can, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (between 11am – 3pm). If you have to go out, try to stay in the shade
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid drinking alcohol in the sun
  • Contact your doctor, pharmacist or NHS Direct (0845 46 47 or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk) if you are worried about your health. In an emergency, dial 999 for an ambulance.

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