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Practices urged to ‘put staff safety first’ as snow chaos hits Britain

by Valeria Fiore
1 March 2018

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GP practices have been advised to consider their staff safety first and close earlier if needed, a Local Medical Committee (LMC) has told Management in Practice today (1 March).

North and South Essex LMC has been advising practices calling in with weather concerns to close their surgery earlier if needed to avoid putting their staff safety at risk.  

The key thing is staff and patients’ safety

Chief Executive at North and South Essex LMC Dr Brian Balmer told Management in Practice that his LMC has been advising practices to ‘provide what service you can, but if it is impossible without putting somebody at risk, then don’t do it.’

His words of advice come after several hospitals across the country have decided yesterday to cancel or postpone non-urgent operations and appointments to ensure patients’ safety.

Dr Balmer: ‘Within the last two days, conditions have changed quite dramatically. The key thing is staff and patients’ safety.

‘If it is impossible for staff to get home safely from their building, then clearly we are going to encourage practices to close earlier. People putting their safety at risk don’t actually help the system.’

Practice closures 

Several practices across England have closed before contractual hours as a consequence of the cold snap hitting the UK. 

King George Road Surgery in Kent decided to close earlier following the bad weather.

They alerted patients on their website: ‘Due to the adverse weather conditions the surgery will be closed from 2pm Thursday 1 March.’ 

The Elizabeth Courtauld Surgery in Halstead, Essex closed earlier yesterday afternoon because of the cold snap.

In a message to patients on their website, they wrote:  ‘Due to adverse weather conditions we will be closing the surgery at 5pm today.’

City Way Medical Practice in Kent stated on their website: ‘Due to the continued problems caused by the adverse weather conditions, the practice has reluctantly made a decision to close at 4pm today.’

It comes as another practice, The Christmas Maltings and Clements Practice in Haverhill, Suffolk told Management in Practice that they had to cancel 16 appointments on 27 February because one of their doctors could not get to work.

Yesterday (28 February), the Met Office issued their second red warning since 2011, as they forecast parts of England and Wales are expected to see more snow and freezing temperatures.

Chief Meteorologist with the Met Office Andy Page said: ‘Parts of south west England and Wales could also see freezing rain for a time on Thursday night – a relatively rare weather phenomenon in the UK. This can result in a high level of impact as ice forms very rapidly on surfaces, leading to severe risks affecting transport and power networks’.