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4x4s used by community healthcare workers to visit patients in difficult to reach areas

PUBLISHED: 10:53 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:04 27 February 2018

East of England ambulance. Picture: Simon Finlay

East of England ambulance. Picture: Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk

Pressure on the region’s health service is expected to spike today as snow and cold weather grips the region.

East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) has warned people to only call for them in a life-threatening emergency as they expected an increase in calls.

It said: “It could take extra time for our crews to reach patients in difficult driving conditions.”

The trust had already been called to nearly 30 crashes by 9.30am.

More heavy snow is expected to fall today and tonight across Norfolk and Suffolk and health bosses urged people to take extra care of those who may be vulnerable.

The James Paget University Hospital, in gorleston, tweeted: “Despite the snow, it is very much business as usual at our hospital today. Outpatient clinics/procedures are going ahead as scheduled so please attend your appointments as planned. However, if you can’t make an appointment, please let us know as soon as possible.”

Public Health England’s extreme events team issued a health warning ahead of the cold snap.

Dr Thomas Waite, on the team, said: “Cold temperatures, indoors and out, pose real health risks to many and every winter we know that thousands of people get ill and even die following exposure to cold conditions.

“As forecasters tell us [this] week temperatures will fall, it’s critical that if you know anyone over 65, with young children or who has heart or lung conditions, that you keep an eye on them and think what help they may need. Staying warm by heating your home to at least 18°C can be crucial to stay well.”

Cold weather health alerts operate on a four-tier scale - ranging from one, ‘winter preparedness’, to four, ‘national emergency’.

While the UK was on level two, over the weekend it was ramped up to a level three, ‘cold weather action’.

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