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Local hospital experts support changes to fireworks packaging

Plastic surgeons at Queen Victoria Hospital are supporting a campaign calling on the government to change the packaging of fireworks in a move to help reduce the number of people sustaining injuries each year.

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A mock-up of what new firework packaging could look like. Credit to BAPRAS.

Planning on seeing the New Year in at home with fireworks? How confident are you on using them whilst keeping you, your friends and family safe?

According to figures from NHS Digital, last year in England 4,436 individuals attended accident and emergency because of an injury caused by a firework – more than double the number in 2009-2010 (2,141).

Half of those seen in hospitals between 2017-2018 were aged 18 or under and 80 per cent were male. This is despite the fact that legally you need to be aged 18 or over to buy fireworks.

A number of patients from across the South East of England injured by fireworks required reconstructive surgery from specialist surgeons at Queen Victoria Hospital, some of whom had life-changing injuries.

The hospital is a leading specialist centre for reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation, helping people who have been damaged or disfigured through both accidents and disease.

A campaign created by the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), of which Queen Victoria Hospital’s plastic surgeons are members, is calling for an overhaul of firework packaging in a bid to reduce the number of injuries sustained through the misuse of fireworks.

The association is suggesting the introduction of graphic images of injuries caused by fireworks to be featured on packaging.

Baljit Dheansa, consultant plastic surgeon at Queen Victoria Hospital, said:

“People often forget that fireworks are effectively explosives and although they may look like toys, they can cause significant injuries requiring reconstructive surgery. We are lending our support to British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons’ campaign calling on the government to include mandatory warning notices, similar to those found on cigarette packets, on all fireworks packaging.

“We want to ensure that everyone coming into contact or buying fireworks is fully aware of the potential they have to cause harm and the implications on those around them. Ultimately, we hope this change will reduce the number of people requiring reconstructive surgery primarily to their hands or face, after incorrectly using sparklers or misusing fireworks.”

Health & Wellbeing

Local NHS urging locals to get jab as flu rates shoot up 85%

The local NHS is urging people to get their flu jab and highlighting treatment advice, after flu cases shot up by 85 per cent within the space of a week in England.

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Health bosses warn this winter’s influenza outbreak is now beginning to take hold and urging those eligible to get their flu jab now – GP consultation rate in the South East for flu like illnesses has risen from 10.3 per 100,000 to 14.2 in just one week, which is adding more pressure on local health services.

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can be a very unpleasant illness with symptoms including fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days.

Flu can’t be treated with antibiotics – flu is caused by viruses and antibiotics only work against bacteria.

Those who get the flu will get better more quickly if they:

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep
  • Make sure they keep warm
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Gareth Howells, Deputy Director of Urgent Care and Systems Resilience for Central Sussex and East Surrey Commissioning Alliance-North, said

The best form of protection against flu is to get the vaccine, and to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene. It isn’t too late to get the flu vaccine so make sure you take up the offer if you’re eligible, to protect yourself and vulnerable people around you.

“We are advising those who already have flu-like symptoms to rest, drink plenty of water and take paracetamol where needed.”

In order to reduce the impact of flu on local NHS services, residents and visitors to the city are being asked to make sure they use the right service for their medical needs, freeing up emergency care for those most in need.

The NHS Minor Injuries Unit Queen Victoria Hospital and Horsham Hospital are available for treatment without appointments; the Urgent Treatment Centre at Crawley Hospital is also available 24 hours a day, NHS 111 is available all day every day and www.nhs.uk is available to check symptoms online around the clock.

A pharmacist can also help with flu, offering treatment advice and recommend flu remedies, and give guidance on giving medicines to children. No appointment necessary to see a local pharmacist and most have private consultation areas, and will say if you need further medical attention. fffffffffffff

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