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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

Council asks you to help improve the lives of those living with dementia

More than 30,000 people in West Sussex are Dementia Friends, and West Sussex County Council is encouraging all of its staff and residents to join the programme.

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The focus comes in support of Dementia Action Week, which is running from 20-26 May 2019.

Dementia is rapidly becoming the defining health issue of our time, with the numbers of people living with the condition increasing and no treatment to prevent or cure the underlying diseases. However we believe that life doesn’t end when dementia begins. 

Over the duration of the week, a range of events, such as Memory Cafes and ‘Ask the Expert’ will be taking place across the county, aimed to raise awareness of the matter and share information. 

As part of these events, Human Story Theatre is presenting Connie’s Colander across various West Sussex libraries. A drama intertwining a mother and daughter’s journey with dementia, tickets to the stripped-back, intimate show are free and can be booked via Eventbrite. The drama is crammed with all emotions and lots of laughs, alongside an informal Q&A session, facilitated by the two actors and local dementia specialists.

Amanda Jupp, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said:

“Dementia affects each person differently. Therefore it is really important that we understand how to recognise when someone is living with the condition.

“I cannot emphasise the importance of becoming a Dementia Friend enough. None of us are immune to the disease, so it is vital that we help to make a difference and continue to reduce the stigma surrounding it.”  

Around 14,000 people are estimated to have dementia in West Sussex and that figure is expected to reach 18,000 over the next six years.

More advice on dementia, as well as information on the upcoming events, can be found at www.westsussex.gov.uk/daw19.

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