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Snow injured patients swamp busy hospitals

PUBLISHED: 11:43 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 17:30 25 August 2010

HOSPITAL workers were pushed to the limit as a dramatic rise in patients with broken bones were admitted, amid fears that salt bins - used for gritting paths - are being raided for their salt and sold by unscrupulous gangs.

HOSPITAL workers were pushed to the limit as a dramatic rise in patients with broken bones were admitted, amid fears that salt bins - used for gritting paths - are being raided for their salt and sold by unscrupulous gangs.

Queen Mary's in Sidcup, Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, all had a dramatic rise in A&E patients as icy conditions have led to more falls and accidents.

Demand for X-rays has doubled at Queen Mary's and fracture clinics at all sites are fully booked, with extra clinics being put on.

Bosses warned if emergencies rise significantly, they may have to start shifting some resources from non-emergency units.

The upsurge comes as Bexley council chiefs fear that their salt bins are being raided by yobs hell-bent on making a quick buck as depleted stocks nationwide push the price through the roof.

Councillor for the environment, Gareth Bacon, said: "We are happy for community-minded people to use the salt to keep public areas clear of ice and snow.

"But we are concerned that the salt is being stolen in bulk and then sold commercially, which makes it much more difficult for us to keep the footways safe for local people."

Health care staff were praised for battling through the icy conditions to keep vital emergency services running.

South London Healthcare boss, Dr Chris Streather, sent a letter to 6,000 staff which said: "Once again, I want to thank all staff for their efforts during the snow and ice over the last couple of days and for helping make sure that our patients haven't been disrupted too much and that we have been able to handle the inevitable rise in demand.

"I said this before Christmas but I'll say it again, that the commitment and dedication to the community that comes with working for the NHS really puts itself on public show in the best possible way in situations like this."

While some residents took advantage of the latest snow flurry, many flocking to Greenwich Park, one family was deprived of some fun by a mean-spirited thief who pinched two sledges from a porch in Christchurch Road, Sidcup, last Sunday (10) night.

Bexley Police, who attended, said the 41-year-old victim had turned detective and followed the culprit's tracks but lost them in a patch of melted snow on Main Road. Anyone who has information about the theft can call 0300 123 1212.

Neighbouring Bromley borough has been inundated with calls about snowball fights, sledge thefts and vehicles stuck in the snow.

One man was so desperate that he sunk to the snowy depths of burgling a vicarage to steal a sledge.

The slippery thief was spotted by the vicar pulling up outside the Orpington vicarage in a car last Friday (8) at around 1.30pm.

A 25-year-old man, a friend of the 23-year-old, later admitted a charge of burglary and was cautioned while the sledge was returned to its rightful owners who had had it for 15 years.

Up to 180 tonnes of rock salt per day is being applied to Bexley borough's main road network.

A spokesman for Bexley council said it had "satisfactory" stocks of salt and is continuing to deliver salt in key locations, but it has decided not to refill the bins for the time being to prevent further theft.

For the latest information, visit the council's website at www.bexley.gov.uk.


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