Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Big Freeze continues

Most of Cumbria remains covered with snow and ice, and the extreme weather has forced health bosses in Cumbria to cancel all non-emergency hospital appointments.

NHS Services

NHS North West told the BBC that staff were focusing on emergency cases and said it hoped patients would understand.

Even though the county has escaped the worst of recent snowfalls, more than 140 schools have been closed.

The Highways Agency said it had about six days of grit and salt left and that at the moment it was coping with road treatment operations.

Jane Cummings, director for nursing, quality, performance and commissioning at NHS North West, told the BBC: "At the moment our priority has to be to maintain patient safety and treat emergency and urgent cases.

"This may mean that some patients may experience a slight delay to some services, or that services are delivered in a slightly different way.

"Staff throughout the NHS are doing all that they can to ensure essential services continue to run efficiently.

"We can confirm that some hospitals across the region have taken the decision to postpone all non-essential out-patient appointments.

"If you have an out-patient or day-patient appointment scheduled for the next few days, please contact your hospital clinic and check whether any arrangements have been changed."

Road and train delays

Most roads are passable with care, although the A66 trans-Pennine route between Brough and Bowes in County Durham has been closed.

Northern Rail has warned of likely delays on services between Carlisle and Newcastle.

Gritting problems

Problems with the supply of rock salt caused by soaring national demand have also forced Cumbria County Council to halt the gritting of low-priority routes.

It is continuing to grit priority one and two routes, but the remainder - mainly minor roads in rural areas - are not.

Other issues

Mountain rescue teams have been drafted in to help the North West Ambulance Service, which is only responding to the most urgent calls.

More than 140 schools across the region were forced to shut on Tuesday.

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