Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Northern Ireland hospitals and gritters stretched to capacity

Cold comfort -- snow may look pretty but it has us shivering in our boots
Cold comfort -- snow may look pretty but it has us shivering in our boots
A family walking through a forest in the mountains overlooking Belfast in County Antrim
A young family enjoying a winter wonderland in County Antrim
Heavy Snow on the Glenshane Pass on Tuesday 28th Oct 08. Photo by Conor McDonald, Maghera
Teenagers make the most of the snow in the Sentry hill area of Ballymena
The snow covered coastal village of Glenarm in Co Antrim
Snow and freezing fog conditions outside Broughshane, County Antrim
Demand for grit rockets as the cold snap continues
A forest in the mountains overlooking Belfast in County Antrim
Passengers wait for flights
Livestock battle with the snow and freezing fog in County Antrim
Delays and cancellations of flights due to the snow in parts of England has left passengers not knowing if they were able to return home for Christmas. Above: Harry and Eleanor Davies
Delays and cancellations of flights due to the snow in parts of England has left passengers not knowing if they were able to return home for Christmas. Above: Paul and Paula Miller
Passengers at Belfast International Airport unsure if they are able to return home for Christmas
Sian and Tabitha Mathusamy
People enjoy the snowy weather conditions in Glasgow on December 22, 2009 in Glasgow, Scotland
Darragh Crowley (12) from the Waterside in Derry plays in the snow in St.Columb's Park
A child attempts to get his plough moving near Aldergrove, County Antrim
The snow caused chaos for some, but was a chance to have fun for others
A couple walk through heavy snow in Cheethams Park, Stalybridge, Cheshire
The cold snap has left motorists facing treacherous conditions across Northern Ireland
Shannon and Joshua Willoc play in the snow in St. Columb's Park, Derry
Darragh Crowley (12) from the Waterside in Derry plays in the snow in St.Columb's Park
Mark McFetridge enjoys the snow outside his Coleraine home
Lyndsey McBride walks her dog ' Heidi' at Stormont
10 years-ol Pablo O'Connor bounding along in his sleigh on the snow at Brooke Park, Derry
Nisha Stevenson and Sophia Thomasius sleighing in the snow at Brooke Park, Derry
Nisha Stevenson and her mum Anne McAteer sleighing in the snow at Brooke Park, Derry
A train travels through the snow near Ingatestone, Essex after a night's heavy snowfall
A horse in a field next to the River Chelmer in Essex, after heavy snow
Snow starts to fall over St Paul's Cathedral in central London last night
Laura Henderson, south Belfast
Snow on the Antrim Hills in Co Antrim
Up to 10 centimetres of snow has fallen in some parts of Northern Ireland causing disruption to flights and forcing the closure of some schools February 2009
Snow on the Antrim Hills February 2009
Snow brings Northern Ireland to a stand still. Left to right. Ciaran McMullan(6), Fiona Lenghan and Matthew O'Rourke from Carryduff pictured outside their houses playing in the snow. February 2009
Snow makes it hard for drivers near Hannastown February 2009
Heavy snow blankets Marden's Hill in East Sussex
Britain is braced for more freezing temperatures and snow
Clearing the snow, Belfast city centre, 6/2/1963 To purchase this photograph as large format canvas or acrylic visit Belfast Telegraph page on www.niphotocanvas.co.uk
Walking in the snow, Massereene Park, Antrim, 8/12/1966 To purchase this photograph as large format canvas or acrylic visit Belfast Telegraph page on www.niphotocanvas.co.uk
Workers clear snow from the Gotthard across in the Swiss Alps, Monday May 18, 2009, where the highest point is 2,108 meters above sea level. The pass will be reopened on May 27, 2009, after an estimated seven weeks of cleaning works and around 220,000 tons of removed snow, according to the removal team leader. The pass connects the German-speaking part of Switzerland with the Italian-speaking region of the country.(AP Photo/Keystone, Urs Flueeler)
Boris the Barbary lion at Belfast zoo. Submitted by Lisa Shilliday. 05/02/09
Pupils from Methodist College Belfast battle their way through the snow on the way to class
Caption: Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 5th February 2009 ..Pupils from Methodist College Mark Walker and Michael Rogers snow ball our photographer in University Road.....Mandatory Credit -Photo by Stephen Hamilton Presseye.com.
With no worries about outlook of further snow three-year old Kenneth Moore, Greenacres, Ballyutoag, Ligoniel, admires his giant snowman in the garden of his home. 21/1/1965
A U.T.A. bus which was abandoned in deep snow-drifts on the main Larne-Ballymena road at Shane's Hill. 30/11/1965
These cars found the Belfast-Aldergrove road very tricky as they manoeuvred slowly along on the hard packed snow. 16/2/1966
Snow plough trying to clear the drifts blocking the main Larne-Ballymena road at Shane's Hill. 30/11/1965
Allister Cosby (left) and Julian Parker, both aged nine, of Downview Park, West Belfast, were out early enjoying the snow. 3/12/1966
An army of workmen went out early clearing the snow in Belfast's city centre, before the first of the office workers arrived. 6/2/1963
First sunset of the New Year. By Candy Morrison in Newmills
Earhart Park, Derry. Christmas Day 2009. By Robbie Hegarty
'Fenced in', Dunmurry. By Hazel
Whiterock Co Down. By Mikeymo
Ballynure, Co Antrim, 5th January 2010. By Stephen Millings
Shrek. By Stephen Millings
Lady Dixon Park, Christmas Eve. By William Dunne
Lorcan and Marley. By William Dunne
Early on New Year's Day, Templepatrick. By Linda, Templepatrick
Lady Dixon Park, Belfast. By William Dunne
New Years Day sunset, Rough Island, Comber. submitted by Rebecca, Belfast
Frost on Clothes Pegs on Christmas Day 09, Rathfriland, Co. Down. By John Harkness - Belfast
In the Bleak Mid-Winter. By Brian Morton / Straid
Dairyland Road - submitted by Brian Morton, Straid
Dundrum Beach, Co Down. Boxing Day 2009. By S McHugh
New Year's Day dip at Ballyholme. By Mike Pringle, Groomsport
Tobermore v Churchill United final off. By Rod Mulholland.
New Years Day, Cushendunn. By Paul Davis from Coleraine
Tom McIntyre, Hollow Farm Tandragee. By Sonia McIntyre
Pepe. By Pauline, Ballynahinch
Home. By Pauline, Ballynahinch
Real Christmas trees, Limavady mountain. By Paul Davis from Coleraine
Marv in the back garden. By Alan Frame, Larne
Misty Lane. By Rod Mulholland
Moyola River, Tobermore. By Rod Mulholland
Nightlife in Straid. Al Richardson/Tara Morton
A great reason to go back to bed. By Stephen, Ballynure
Snow patrol in Monkstown. By Harry Crowe, Monkstown, Newtownabbey
Seal takes an icy dip in the Lagan at Drumbeg, Co Down
Sammy the Seal in Drumbeg. By Evaline Mitchell, Dunmurry
Tobermore village. By Rod Mulholland

Road gritting services are being overwhelmed and hospitals are cancelling operations as the most consistent cold snap in decades continues to grip Northern Ireland.

Ice and freezing temperatures have caused disruption since December and more snow was forecast overnight.

Temperatures dropped to -5C on Monday night as snow and sleet fell on already treacherous surfaces, with the north west of the province particularly badly hit.

An unprecedented number of patients requiring surgery after falling on ice has led to one health trust having to cancel several planned operations.

Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry has treated 102 people who required surgery after slipping on ice in the past fortnight.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust has postponed 26 planned operations as a result.

Staff at accident and emergency departments in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital and at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald are also experiencing an increase in patient numbers. Over the past week at the Royal 75 people who had sustained fractures will require further treatment. Meanwhile Roads Service has issued an urgent warning to motorists amid predictions that the icy spell would last for at least another week.

“We are getting ready for another very cold night across Northern Ireland, we are expecting snow showers and further accumulation in the morning. This is one of the coldest periods in 30 years and it looks like we will be suffering those conditions for around 10 days,” said Colin Brown from the Roads Service.

There has also been confusion over who is responsible for gritting pavements, while reports are flooding in of local shortages of salt supplies for people to grit their own areas.

Councils insist all gritting is the responsibility of Roads Service, but Roads Service said its gritting policy did not extend to footpaths.

Stormont health committee chairman Jim Wells said Roads Service was battling to keep on top of gritting roads but he couldn’t understand why councils haven’t been given the powers to grit pavements in an emergency situation.

“After the holiday period a lot of pensioners are out and about getting essential supplies and going to the post office, and unfortunately there is no salting on the pavements and they run the risk of slipping and ending up with a serious injury,” he said.

Traffic came to a standstill across Northern Ireland yesterday as snow and ice hampered traffic. There were reports of minor accidents around the Newtownards area while Mr Wells said tractors were digging out stricken cars on the Ballynahinch to Downpatrick Road.

A Roads Service spokeswoman said: “During periods of sub-zero temperatures and snow Roads Service resources are prioritised on ensuring the main road networks which caters for 80% of traffic are gritted and teams of workers have been tirelessly working day and night to ensure that these have been kept open.

“Roads Service is also replenishing rural grit piles and salt bins which have been placed at hills, bends or junctions for areas not on the main roads network. Roads Service policy does not extend to gritting footpaths.”

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