Arctic blast’s injury toll hits Borderers

Scottish Water Burst Pipes'Pic Peter Devlin
Scottish Water Burst Pipes'Pic Peter Devlin
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FIFTY-SIX Borderers a day sustained injuries as a result of slips, trips and falls during the severe wintry weather which hit the region earlier this month.

With pavements remaining treacherous despite this week’s thaw, NHS Borders reported 1,123 people attended Borders General Hospital and GP surgeries from December 1-20 with orthopaedic-related conditions as a result of falls. That figure is slightly down on the same period last year when 1,186 were admitted.

Attendances to accident and emergency at the BGH also fell during the heavy snowfall which struck the Borders at the start of December, with a return to normal anticipated levels in the days prior to the festive break. And the numbers attending the fracture clinics are “not significantly different” from the same time last year.

Borders Emergency Care Service also had a reduction in figures at the start of the month.

Meanwhile, NHS Borders pointed out that all GP practices and health centres are closed from New Year’s Day until Tuesday.

“If you or someone you care for is unwell and can’t wait until your GP surgery reopens, contact the NHS 24 helpline on 08454 24 24 24,” said an NHS Borders spokesperson. “If the condition is immediately life threatening, dial 999 for an emergency ambulance.”

Other advice includes checking on neighbours and vulnerable members of communities by ensuring they are safe, warm and have something warm to eat and drink.

If someone takes medicines regularly they must collect repeat prescriptions to last throughout the holiday period. And medicine cabinets should be stocked up as common winter illnesses can be treated at home with basic medicine and advice from a pharmacist.

NHS Borders also said that being outdoors in the cold weather can lead to mild hypothermia, which increases the risk of a number of illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes and respiratory disease, as well as the likelihood of falls.

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Meanwhile, Scottish Water has apologised for delays in dealing with burst pipes after receiving 14,000 calls since Christmas Eve – more than four times the normal level for this period.

The government quango has pulled in extra staff to deal with the “rapid thaw”, while engineers have been on duty throughout the holidays, working in freezing temperatures to repair burst pipes.

Peter Farrer, Scottish Water’s customer service delivery director, said: “We are dealing with extremely high levels of calls. Our customer helpline in Edinburgh and our back-up call centre together with our field teams are working at full capacity.

“We are aware that we may be taking longer to answer some calls or respond to appeals for help.

“For this we apologise and thank our customers for their patience as we work to deal with all these issues.

“During the freezing temperatures the majority of calls are about frozen pipes.

“However, as the temperatures rise and the thaw takes hold this is when there is a heightened risk of burst pipes that affect both our customers’ water connections and our pipe network.”

He added: “Our team know it’s a 24-7 business and all our staff know how important it is for customers to be able to get through to us when they call.

“It may, however, take longer to answer calls during such extreme conditions when our customer helpline is very busy.

“We would ask customers to remain patient with us during such times. Across the business our staff are tackling issues and prioritising the most crucial work first.”

Members of the public have been asked to report visible bursts in the public network to Scottish Water’s customer helpline on 0845 601 8855 or via their website

Advice is available for internal house problems from www.scottishwater/warmpipes