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District nurses praised for efforts to reach snow bound patients

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District nurses have been praised for donning crampons and navigating ice covered lanes in order to reach rural patients in Wales.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said it wanted to highlight the efforts of its community teams, which it said were sometimes forgotten in bad weather stories that tended to focus on the efforts of staff to reach hospitals.

In a statement the board said nurses have had to leave their cars some distance away from people’s homes in rural areas, and walk along “treacherous untreated roads and lanes” to get to their patients.

Even in the urban areas, icy hills or untreated side roads have made driving impossible and forced nurses to walk, the board said.

Anne Joseph, one of the district nurses team leaders, said: “Some of have even bought crampons to use so they can walk more safely on icy surfaces.

However she added: “This exceptional weather is proving to be very hard on district nurses, however, as we have to walk so much each day in very icy and dangerous conditions. We are getting very tired, and there have been a few falls, although luckily none of us have been seriously hurt.”

Royal College of Nursing lead steward for Wales Christine Thomas, herself a district nurse, said the board’s community teams were also working with acute colleagues to ensure patients who were unable to get to hospital for their usual treatment were cared for.

She said: “Two of our district nurses, Suzette Jones and Sarah Bennett, were able to borrow Sarah’s husband’s 4x4 to get to people they knew were totally dependent on them for care.  

“They were able to respond to requests from ward staff to administer daily anti-coagulation therapy to patients that would normally receive this treatment daily by attending the ward.”

The board’s chief executive, David Sissling, said: “We are very proud of our district nurses.”

Earlier in the month Lincolnshire Community Health Services also praised the efforts of its community nurses to reach housebound and terminally ill patients.

Complex case manager Ian Benford drove staff nurses Rosey Hall and Anne Hawbrook to patients in a 4x4 donated by the countywide out of hours service.

One cancer patient, Arthur from Lincoln, said said: “I was really pleased to see the community nurse and so grateful for the extra effort she made to visit me through the snow and ice. The nurses deserve real praise for their efforts.”

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