NHS ‘Heat Heroes’ brave record temperatures to help patients keep cool

As Britain bakes under record-breaking heat, the health service’s chief executive has paid tribute to staff going above and beyond to keep people safe and healthy.

‘Hydration stations’ in London’s hospitals, free ice creams and lollies for staff, ‘water buses’ for patients, and NHS staff weather stations are among the range of innovative solutions put in place as the country deals with mercury-busting weather.

NHS boss Simon Stevens praised the skill, compassion and resilience of doctors, nurses and other NHS staff working flat out despite the intense heat, saying that their efforts demonstrated “the absolute best” of the NHS.

Among the dozens of examples of health teams working to keep services running and the public healthy are:

  • Hospital bosses across the country have helped staff keep cool by paying for their teams to get free ice creams or lollies when on their break, including Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, University Hospitals North Midlands, Cambridge University Hospitals and Wrightington Wigan and Leigh Hospitals.
  • John Gardner, a health care assistant in Worcestershire used his own personal weather station to post local heat alerts and coping advice to patients in the community.
  • Hospitals in London setting up ‘hydration stations’ – pop-up stalls and stands to serve patients free water, as well as ‘drinks buses’ for patients being taken around wards to help people get the right amount of fluids.
  • In Liverpool, the drive to keep people healthy didn’t stop at the hospital door, as staff put together a guide to free water refill spots around the city, so people can stay well while out and about after leaving hospital.
  • Sinead Doherty, a clinical nurse at the Whittington Health Trust, looked at her team’s appointments for the day and invited parents with toddlers due to come in earlier, so they can avoid going out later in the day when the heat is strongest.
  • In Croydon, staff gave out free water to people waiting in A&E to ensure those who are the most sick also keep hydrated when it might not be their priority.

Simon Stevens, chief executive for the NHS in England said: “Once again our staff – the country’s Heat Heroes – have risen to a challenge and shown just why our doctors, nurses and other NHS staff are the envy of the world.

“It is thanks to their continued hard work and ability to go above and beyond the call of duty, we are able to continue to look after our patients to the highest possible standard.

“So I’m sure the public will once again say ‘thank you’ to everyone working this week for your dedication and creativity, which is showing the absolute best of the NHS.”

The NHS is there for its patients in adverse weather, with more options than ever before. For those feeling the heat, the NHS 111 phone and online service can give advice on self care or where best to go for treatment, as can local pharmacists.

Everyone is also urged to check in on vulnerable neighbours and the elderly to make sure they are safe and well.

While the effects of too much sun can affect anyone, some are more at risk to the danger of hot weather including:

Young children, babies, and the elderly, especially those over 75;
People with serious chronic conditions and mobility problems such as Parkinson’s disease or those who have had a stroke, and;
People on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control.