Don't go on 'long run' in the New Year to avoid putting strain on NHS

Don’t go on a ‘long run’ to get fit in the New Year to avoid putting extra strain on over-stretched NHS, senior medic warns

  • Sir Frank Atherton said people who want to lose weight should ‘pace’ themselves
  • Yesterday, he warned NYE revellers ‘don’t drink too much’ to reduce pressure
  • Health leaders said this winter could be worst on record for A&E waiting times

A senior doctor today warned Brits not to go on a ‘long run’ to get fit in the New Year to avoid putting extra strain on the over-stretched NHS.

Sir Frank Atherton, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said that people who want to lose weight should ‘pace’ themselves to not put undue pressure on medical services.

‘The health and care system is under such pressure – it’s the busiest I’ve ever seen it’, he told BBC One’s Breakfast programme.

‘Now is not the time to be going out and starting to do a huge long run. We want people to get fit and active in the new year, of course we do, but do it sensibly, think about pacing yourself, about not taking on too much all at once.’

Don’t go on a ‘long run’ to get fit in the New Year to avoid putting extra strain on the over-stretched NHS, a senior medic has warned. Pictured: Ambulances outside A&E at Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske

Sir Frank Atherton (pictured), the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said that people who want to lose weight should ‘pace’ themselves to not put undue pressure on medical services

It comes as health leaders warned this winter is likely to be the worst on record for A&E waiting times as hospitals struggle to cope with rocketing demand driven by flu and Strep A.

An A&E patient was forced to wait for ’99 hours’ before receiving a bed last week and parents have told how their ailing children were forced to sleep on chairs as the NHS faces a worsening crisis this winter.

The unnamed patient was brought to Swindon’s Great Western Hospital by ambulance last week but was left waiting on a gurney for four days while staff urgently tried to source an available bed.

One clinician at Great Western Hospital told the Sunday Times: ‘We’re broken and nobody is listening,’ while Jon Westbrook, the hospital’s chief medical officer, wrote in a leaked email to staff: ‘We are seeing case numbers and [sickness] that we have not seen previously in our clinical careers.’

Winter A&E waiting times set to be worst on record, health bosses warn: Medics fear hospitals will struggle to cope as NHS is ‘pressurised like never before’ with rocketing demand driven by flu and Strep A 


Meanwhile in Oxford at the children’s A&E department of John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, a three-year-old girl was seen curled up on a plastic chair trying to sleep after waiting for hours to be treated.

Yesterday, Sir Frank warned New Year’s Eve revellers ‘don’t drink too much’ to help reduce pressure on the over-stretched health service. 

He said: ‘I agree people generally behave very sensibly. 

‘Sadly, when alcohol gets thrown into the mix, and it gets thrown in a big way in new year, that can sometimes go out of the window, and so we are asking people to behave sensibly, don’t put themselves at risk, don’t put others at risk, look after each other when you’re out and about, don’t drink too much and don’t get into trouble.

‘We do see that, sadly, in the UK at this time of year. Similarly, this is not the time to be putting yourself at risk with dangerous activities, anything that increases the risk to you in person, given the fact we do have delays to ambulance services and they really can only meet the needs of the most seriously ill.’

Asked what activities people should avoid to reduce the risk of injury, he added: ‘Keeping yourself warm at home is really important as well, looking after your health, I know that’s very difficult with the cost-of-living crisis.

‘Watch out for your loved ones, make sure that people are kept safe, particularly the elderly at this time of year, that they are well hydrated at home, because people can get dehydrated very quickly, and we know that elderly people who get dehydrated then run into problems with frailty, they have falls, they need to be brought to hospital. 

‘So we can look after each other and look after ourselves and keep the NHS capacity for those who really need it.’

The president of the RCEM, Dr Adrian Boyle, said that Britain has among the lowest proportional hospital bed capacity in Europe and the NHS is facing a ‘staff retention crisis’ after losing 40,000 nurses in 2022. 

He added that services have been stretched more recently by nurse and ambulance worker strikes and a ‘demand shock’ caused by a flu season which ‘certainly hasn’t peaked’ along with coronavirus and Strep A admissions.

Dr Boyle said: ‘In November, we recorded the highest ever hospital occupancy at 94.4 per cent.

A&E performance has worsened last month, with a third of emergency department attendees not seen within four hours (red line) — the NHS’s worst ever performance. Thousands weren’t even seen after waiting in casualty for 12 hours (yellow bars)

Ambulances took an average of 48 minutes and eight seconds to respond to 372,326 category two calls, such as heart attacks, strokes burns and epilepsy (red bars). This is nearly three times the 18-minute target but around 13 minutes speedier than one month earlier

The NHS’s bed-blocking crisis has exploded since the pandemic with the levels of delayed discharges around triple comparable figures before Covid

Nearly a hundred hospitals are dealing with fewer Covid patients than so-called ‘bed-blockers’, according to ‘worrying’ official figures. Map shows: The ten hospitals with the most patients medically fit for discharge that were still in beds in the week ending October 31

‘I would be amazed if that has gone down over December. It almost certainly would have gone up.’

Dr Boyle added that he ‘would not be at all surprised’ if this December was the worst on record for A&E waiting times and hospital bed occupancy.

‘Over 90 per cent of clinical leads last week reported that they had people waiting in their emergency department for more than 24 hours,’ he said.

‘The gallows joke about this is now that 24 hours in A&E is not a documentary, it’s a way of life.

‘These long delays are harmful for people – they are sick and need hospital but are waiting in the corridor of an emergency department.

‘It’s undignified and it’s dangerous.’

In November, around 37,837 patients waited more than 12 hours in A&E for a decision to be admitted to a hospital department, according to figures from NHS England.

This is an increase of almost 355 per cent compared with the previous November, when an estimated 10,646 patients waited longer than 12 hours.

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