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A and E doctors braced for busy New Year

Doctors say they're concerned that another busy winter in A and E is leading to long waiting times at some of the region's hospitals.

Consultants in A and E are expecting a busy New Year.

They say, if it is not a life threatening emergency, patients should think about where they can get the best care rather than relying on A and E for every medical problem.

Watch: Dr Jim Connelly Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Royal Victoria Infirmary

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Domestic abuse intensifies at Christmas

This Christmas, the Police in England and Wales are reporting a ‘staggering’ 31% rise in cases of domestic abuse between 2013 and 2015.

Cases of domestic abuse rose over 30% between 2013 and 2015

As many as 1 in 4 woman and 14% of men are affected by domestic abuse and many cases go unreported.

IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services) provide support, advice and refuge to those affected by domestic abuse across North Yorkshire.

“These figures demonstrate that we must all work together to support those affected by domestic abuse and ensure that they feel confident to come forward and seek help.

"We would encourage them to get in touch. We work closely with the Police locally and have received additional funding from the Office of the Police Crime Commissioner to ensure that support is available across the county.”

– Sarah Hill, Director of IDAS

“Our successful partnership working was recognised by HMIC and we will continue to work closely with partner organisations to ensure that vulnerable victims get the best service possible, specifically services around children and young people.”

– Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy, North Yorkshire Police

Financial concerns, increased alcohol consumption, unrealistic expectations and family tensions make Christmas a stressful time for most families.

However, when there is already domestic abuse happening within a family these tensions can escalate and result in someone getting hurt.

An experienced practitioner from IDAS gives her recommendations for reducing the risk of abuse.

Domestic abuse is one person wanting to have power and control over their current, ex-partner or family member, such as child to parent.

Abusers use a range of techniques to lock their victims into a tight cycle of power and control.

They might achieve this in a number of ways including: humiliating them; shouting, constantly criticising them and putting them down; controlling finances; isolating them from friends and family; checking up on them; insisting on having access to their phone and emails; forcing them into unwanted sexual activity; kicking, punching, slapping, hitting them and threatening them.

Abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, psychological or sexual and can affect anyone.

Donna, an experienced practitioner from IDAS, recommends these small steps for people who feel that their behaviour is causing problems for them or their loved ones:

Recognise when your anger is rising and act to deal with this at the earliest point.

Take time out – remove yourself from the situation but explain to a partner that you plan to do this and that this is to moderate your behaviour not to punish them.

Use your time out appropriately don’t drink or spend time with people who may also feel aggression is normal.

Choose to spend time with someone who will calm you rather than make your anger worse.

Tell yourself Christmas is a couple to days to enjoy with your family. Abuse can lead to you losing your family, it’s up to you to manage your behaviour and if you do, your family will still be around for you after Christmas.

Think about the childhood memories you want your children to have.

“Domestic abuse causes distress, fear and serious harm to victims and children and can result in a family having to flee their home and the perpetrator receiving a prison sentence. Look out for each other.”

“Domestic abuse causes distress, fear and serious harm to victims and children and can result in a family having to flee their home and the perpetrator receiving a prison sentence. Look out for each other.” I

– Donna, IDAS practitioner

IDAS run a voluntary programme, Positive Steps, for men who want to change their behaviour. For more information contact

If you are affected by domestic abuse call IDAS on 03000 110 110 or visit


Newcastle professor helps save lives in Sri Lanka

A Northumbria University academic is playing the lead role in bringing heart and lung transplants to Sri Lanka – a country where this life-saving surgery has not previously been available.

Professor Stephen Clark. Credit: Northumbria University

Stephen Clark, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Cardiopulmonary Transplantation in Northumbria’s Department of Applied Sciences, is helping the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka establish its first heart and lung transplantation programme.

Until now, no heart transplant has ever taken place in Sri Lanka and only one lung transplant has taken place, back in 2011. Anyone requiring such life-saving surgery would have to travel abroad and pay prohibitively high costs.

Prof. Clark, who is also Director of Cardiopulmonary Transplantation at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, is mentoring Sri Lanka’s College of Surgeons through their first operations. He will also lead a team in the UK that will provide training, advice and practical support to surgeons undertaking these significant operations.

“We are fortunate to have a vibrant transplant programme here in the UK and in other westernised countries, so for many people it may seem unusual to hear that other countries have not been able to provide this life-saving surgery before now. We have been working with Sri Lankan doctors for over two years to form the Sri Lanka Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation which has now been approved under Sri Lankan law. The College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka is keen that Sri Lanka becomes a centre for excellence in transplantations for neighbouring countries.”

– Professor Stephen Clark,, Northumbria University

"It is fantastic news to hear that Professor Clark is playing such a leading role in making these life-saving operations accessible for people in Sri Lanka. I have no doubt that his work will enhance the long-standing relationships the University has with organisations throughout Sri Lanka and South East Asia.”

– Julie Edgar, Northumbria University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Hospital staff and police ready for Black Eye Friday

It's known as 'Black-eye Friday' and across the North East staff at hospital A&E units say they are ready.

Many people drink more on the Friday before Christmas than at any other time of the year.

Doctors say it adds to the pressure - as some people choose to drink twice the amount they would normally.

And that means there will be extra police on the streets too.

Watch Frances Read's report here:

Proposals to downgrade baby care services at North Tees examined

Proposals to change the way that specialist hospital baby care services are provided in the North East will come under the microscope at a special meeting in Hartlepool.

Representatives of NHS England and the Royal College of Paediatrics will present their findings to a meeting of the North-East Joint Health Scrutiny Committee today, December 17.

A review is to recommend that the Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle, Sunderland Royal Hospital and James Cook University in Middlesbrough all continue as Neonatal Intensive Care units, but that North Tees Hospital is downgraded to provide just special care.

The meeting takes place in the Civic Centre, Hartlepool at 10am.


Videogame robot used to rehabilitate North East children with brain injuries

A 'Video Games' robot, the first of its kind in the UK, is being used to help re-habilitate children with brain injuries in the North East. The 'Tyromotion Diego' robotic therapy device from Austria works by supporting children's arms with overhead cables while using sensors to create virtual reality games on a computer screen.

7-year-old Grace from Blyth suffered from a large bleed on the brain in August this year. She now walks independently but full function hasn't returned to her hands, so she uses the Diego robot to help with her recovery.

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