A leading medic has said some NHS hospitals struggling to recover from winter have “bounced unexpectedly” into a summer crisis due to soaring temperatures across the UK.
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said many hospitals had seen a large increase in attendances and admissions due to dehydration – particularly among the elderly.
He said this had added to pressures on emergency departments and acute medical units over recent weeks – derailing attempts to recover ground lost over the winter period.
His comments came as the Met Office said this summer is set to become the hottest since records began, with warnings the heatwave could persist in some parts of the UK, mainly the south and east, until mid-August.
Temperatures are expected to reach up to 31C over the weekend and the mid-30s from next week.
“We know about the effect cold weather has on health but the recent hot weather has reminded us that heat can be equally as dangerous for people, not only the frail elderly but also those working outside,” said Dr Scriven.
“Hospitals are seeing large numbers of patients, particularly the elderly, requiring hospital treatment for dehydration and it’s affects and that is stretching capacity in some areas.
“The concern is that, certainly in some hospitals, we have bounced unexpectedly from the recent extreme winter into a summer crisis when hospitals will be attempting to get back on track.”
Dr Scriven said it was “an important time” to remind people to take care in the hot weather and do what they can for the elderly.
“Although everyone is at risk during periods of extreme heat, the elderly are a particular concern and, wherever possible, people should do what they can to look out for their relatives and neighbours,” he said.
“Just keeping check on them, ensuring they are cool and well hydrated and have people they can call on can all help to avoid hospital admission in this vulnerable group.”