People should “avoid long runs” in new year because NHS can’t cope with injuries

People getting fit for the new year have been urged to avoid taking long runs because the NHS is over-stretched.

Participants run at the start of the 50th Boxing Day sea swim at Tenby, Wales, Britain, December 26, 2022. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
People have been urged to avoid running long distances in the new year. (Reuters)

People getting fit for the new year have been urged to avoid taking long runs because the NHS is over-stretched and may not be able to deal with their injuries.

Health leaders have warned this winter is likely to be the worst on record for A&E waiting times as hospitals struggle to cope with rocketing demand driven by flu and Strep A.

Sir Frank Atherton, the chief medical officer for Wales, has now advised the public to avoid dangerous activities as they may not be prioritised if they get injured due to delays in the ambulance service.

“Now is not the time to be going out and starting to do a huge long run,” he told BBC One’s Breakfast programme when asked what activities people should avoid to reduce the risk of injury.

“We want people to get fit and active in the new year, of course we do, but do it sensibly, think about pacing yourself, about not taking on too much all at once.”

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People stand outside a pub that is open for takeaway drinks during the New Year's Eve amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain December 31, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Revellers have also been told not to drink too much. (Reuters)

Sir Frank also advised people enjoying New Year's Eve celebrations to not “drink too much” as this could put extra strain on the NHS.

“... we are asking people to behave sensibly, don’t put themselves at risk, don’t put others at risk, look after each other when you’re out and about, don’t drink too much and don’t get into trouble," he said.

Mike Gibbons, commissioner of operations for St John Ambulance, also warned revellers to "pace yourself".

He told Sky News: "Enjoy the evening. But just be a bit sensible... and don't go too far with the alcohol."

It comes after the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) said it believed it would be the worst December for hospital bed occupancy and A&E waiting times.

The Society for Acute Medicine added services were being “pressurised like never before”.

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Several NHS trusts have also declared “critical incidents”, meaning they cannot function as usual due to extraordinary pressure.

The president of the RCEM, Dr Adrian Boyle, said that Britain has among the lowest proportional hospital bed capacity in Europe and the NHS is facing a “staff retention crisis” after losing 40,000 nurses in 2022.

He added that services had been stretched more recently by nurse and ambulance worker strikes, and a “demand shock” caused by a flu season which “certainly hasn’t peaked” along with coronavirus and Strep A admissions.

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Dr Nick Scriven, former president of the Society for Acute Medicine, warned the NHS urgent care system was “pressurised like never before”.

He called for action from the government and NHS leaders, and for the general public to play their part to ease pressure on struggling services.

In November, around 37,837 patients waited more than 12 hours in A&E for a decision to be admitted to a hospital department, according to figures from NHS England.

This is an increase of almost 355% compared with the previous November, when an estimated 10,646 patients waited longer than 12 hours.