Bristol A&E Cases Soar Because Of Ice

January 13, 2010

The BRI reports a spike in the number of people going to A&E because of falls on the ice in Bristol.

Hospital bosses say they normally see between 140-160 cases a day at the accident and emergency department at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

But they saw between a third and half more in the three days following snowfall in Bristol last week.

Snow fell on Wednesday 6th Jan, and A&E saw 218 cases on the Thursday, 230 on the Friday and 201 on the Saturday. By Sunday the number of cases had returned to “the high end of average”.

A Broken Leg

A spokeswoman told Jones The News the increase could be put down to slips, falls and trips on the ice and snow. Most of the cases involved sprains and broken bones.

The city council has defended its policy on gritting the city’s pavements, saying it does not have enough grit to salt pavements as well as main roads. Bristol, along with all other local councils, was also told to ration its use of grit as the nation’s stocks ran low.

Nonetheless, the Lib Dem administration on the council has come under fire from Labour councillors Ron Stone and Mark Brain, who have demanded the Lib Dems provide figures on the relative costs of gritting pavements and treating broken bones.

Air ambulance paramedics have also reported attending a number of sledging accidents, as the helicopter is often the only way to reach some of the relatively remote places where sledging accidents happen.

Air paramedic Pete Sadler said many of the cases he had attended involved people who had hit trees or rocks hidden under the snow.

He said: “Are they lucky? Well, they are lucky not to have long-term effects from their injuries. I know of other cases where people have not fared so well.

“If ‘lucky’ is the way to describe a broken arm or a broken ankle, then I would say that compared to a life-threatening injury, that’s lucky.”

“And he urged sledgers to take care in the fresh snow. He said: “Do think about the obstacles in the way. Think about the fact that a sledge isn’t easily controllable.

“If there is a possibility that the sledge might hit a tree or rock, then it’s best to choose another sledge run.”



  1. Well done for checking that out but the information available from the BRI seems very meagre – no attempt to categorise injuries by general cause it seems. Surely it would not be too difficult to identify a general category of cause for injuries, inclusing slips and falls on public roads while walking or cycling. Then we would have some useful data to assess the impact of untreated roads.

    • I did ask if they could break them down further, but they said no. The spokeswoman who got me the stats did however say that the doctors and nurses put the increase down almost wholly to slips, trips and falls on the ice.

      It also tallies pretty exactly with what we remember of the ice last week. Snow on Weds – nice and crunchy, fairly easy to walk on. Thurs, Fri and Sat, absolutely lethal. Sunday – getting slushier and easier to walk on.

      Not sure exactly how much more detailed we can get without asking the BRI to release medical records (which they won’t).

      • It’s logical to put the increase down to falls on the snow and ice, but what we don’t know is how much of the ‘base load’ is attributable to the same cause instead of the more usual causes.

        For example with much less motor traffic about and less economic activity in general we might expect normal accident levels to fall. If so it might be that the proportion attributable to ice falls was the increase plus a proportion of the base load. But without proper data recording and/or analysis we don’t know.

        The NHS, if it were to live up to its name as a ‘health’ service, ought to be focused above all on keeping us well rather than picking up the pieces when we fall. So analysing the causes of accidents ought to be given more attention.

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