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Rovers & Torquay fans raise £4,000 for Oskar

Bristol Rovers Chairman Nick Higgs presenting Oskar Pycroft and his mum Lizzy with more than £4,000 in donations at the New Year's Day game Credit: Neil Brookman

A total of £4,198.39 was raised by Bristol Rovers Supporters through bucket collections prior, during and after the New Year’s Day Torquay United match at the Memorial Stadium, to help pay towards an operation for 6 year-old Bristol City fan, Oskar Pycroft.

Oskar has bilateral spastic cerebral palsy. He can't stand, sit or walk without help and is in constant pain with his muscles and joints. Without complex medical intervention, Oskar faces a life of continuing pain and will never be able to walk independently.

An operation called SDR which could change his life. Surgeons will perform the operation in Bristol on a private basis as Oskar does not meet current NHS criteria.

Oskar’s mum Lizzy is aiming to raise £50k to enable Oskar to have this treatment in Bristol.

I would like to thank all our supporters and those of Torquay who gave so generously for Oskar‘s operation. This money, together with the Supporters Club quiz night and a donation from the Fans Forum, means the total donation from Bristol Rovers fans is in excess of £4,650 and I know this will greatly help boost Oskar’s operation appeal.

It is only right that there should be rivalry in Bristol which is all part of the excitement of football. However, what is even more important is that football is very much a family. It is at times like this that two football families in Bristol have rightly come together to support Oskar to help him walk. We wish the youngster every success with the operation ahead.

– Nick Higgs, Bristol Rovers Chairman

You can find out more about Oskar's appeal here.

YOUR VIEWS: emergency healthcare in the South West

With warnings that the South Western Ambulance Service is under enormous pressure - especially over the Christmas period - we asked about your experiences with emergency health services in your area.

The response has been mainly positive, with overwhelming support for health workers themselves, though some are concerned that the service is overstretched.

Here is a selection of your thoughts.

Many of you have been sharing your experiences of emergency healthcare in the South West

Had to call 111 on Christmas morning for my daughter, which resulted in a trip to the children's A&E department. We were seen very quickly, and a fantastic service was provided by both 111 and Bristol Children's Hospital. Couldn't fault it in any way, and we managed to get home for Christmas dinner (at 7pm!).

– Georgia Searson-Teague, Bristol

Our NHS is being run into the ground. It needs a massive cash injection from the government. The poor staff are worked to death. It's not fair. They do the best they can given their situation. I have never had a problem with their service because I am grateful for it.

– Zowie Seymour, Swindon, Wiltshire

Had to dial 999 yesterday, paramedic came within minutes! Fab service.

– Kelly Ahmed, Bristol

I have been to five head injuries in the past year and Gloucestershire has outdone itself. A wait of over one hour and 40 minutes for an ambulance to transfer a critically injured person after a life-threatening accident ... I could drive to London in that time! The accident happened in South Cerney. Not the middle of nowhere. My friend remained unconscious and passed later that day.

Highly disappointing and contemplating if this were to happen again, I would risk driving the injured person to the hospital myself rather that letting them die at the side of a cold road.

– Kit Bennett, Gloucestershire

It would help if doctors' surgeries were open longer hours over more days to alleviate the problem of an already overstretched A&E.

– Jane Mitchell, Bristol


REPORT: record number of 999 calls over Christmas

There's a warning that emergency services in the West are close to breaking point.

The 999 service dealt with a record number of calls this weekend, with more than 3,500 on Saturday alone. The 111 service was also swamped with calls. Police cars were even being used to take people to hospital.

Our Health Correspondent Katie Rowlett reports:

Just how urgent is your emergency?

Gloucestershire Care Services Trust is urging people to think before making that out-of-hours call Credit: ITV News

Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust has revealed that people contacting its out-of-hours services have a funny idea of emergencies.

It comes as South Western Ambulance received an unprecedented number of calls over the weekend, putting the service under incredible pressure.

It says the following were among the top five reasons for people asking for help over the holiday.

  • Request for repeat prescription
  • Coughs and colds
  • Sickness

Surely a pharmacist could have helped or these issues could have waited until GP surgeries re-opened?

If nothing is done, the problem "will reoccur"

The ambulance service was under huge pressure at the weekend Credit: ITV News

Commenting on the pressure faced by South Western Ambulance Service over the holiday, the Liberal Democrat member of the Commons Health Select Committee, Andrew George said:

I have already asked Health Ministers to make sure that the Ambulance Trust is receiving all of the help it deserves in dealing with the unprecedented demand during the last four days, while 'in hours' GP surgeries and other non-urgent medical services have been unavailable.

Once this immediate crisis is over I will be urging Health Chiefs and Ministers to reflect on the trends which are contributing to these pressures.

Poor integration of and inadequately of capacity in out of hours services; the closure of almost 50% of acute beds during the past decade leading to intolerable pressures at A&E; a culture which now points to emergency services as a 'first' rather than as a 'last' resort; and the weakening of the capacity of Ambulance services as the easy and more profitable parts of its service have been parcelled up for privatisation, have all contributed to the problems and pressures on the service. These must be looked at when we have the luxury of more reflective time, as we know that otherwise this problem will reoccur not only at every future Christmas and Easter but at other times.

I also have some sympathy for the views of the College of Emergency Medicine about those who expect our already overstretched emergency services to mop up the self-inflicted problems of over-indulgence in alcohol. Perhaps they're right and we should consider how to make sure that people take more responsibility for their behaviour?

– Andrew George MP

Health Service is on the verge on 'major incident'

The South Western Ambulance Service on the verge of 'major incident' Credit: ITV News

The South Western Ambulance Service which covers Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall says that it is on the verge of declaring a internal 'major incident'.

The average number of calls 999 takes from this area is 2,500 a day. Yesterday they took 3,500 calls.

Steve White, says the 111 service is overwhelmed and that the police force are being used to provide health care cover.

Please only call 999 and 111 for life-threatening emergencies and urgent medical help. All NHS services, including 999 and NHS111, are experiencing extremely high demand today. If you are suffering a life-threatening emergency or need urgent medical help then please call. However, if not, please think about the other healthcare options available, such as self-care or visiting a pharmacy, or please consider whether your problem could wait until your own GP surgery reopens on Monday.

– South Western Ambulance Service


Hospital beats bug in time for Christmas

All wards have returned to normal at Weston General Hospital Credit: ITV News

A hospital that was hit by the winter vomiting bug norovirus has re-opened all its wards in time for Christmas. At one point four wards were closed to new admissions at Weston General Hospital.

The trust has extended visiting times from 10am to 8pm between Christmas Day and Sunday 28 December. It is still warning visitors to remain vigilant and not to come if anyone has had a bug or cold or flu symptoms in the last two days.

Woman dials 999 to deal with dead cat

The South Western Ambulance Service has had one of its busiest weekends on record - with the control room handling an unprecedented number of calls. And while the majority were genuine emergencies, there is a growing problem with time wasters who needlessly call 999.

The call below, in which a woman calls the emergency services after finding a dead cat, is just one example of what operators have to deal with.

  1. West Country (W)

Woman dials 999 to deal with dead cat

The South Western Ambulance Service has had one of its busiest weekends on record - with the control room handling an unprecedented number of calls. And while the majority were genuine emergencies, there is a growing problem with time wasters who needlessly call 999.

The call below, in which a woman calls the emergency services after finding a dead cat, is just one example of what operators have to deal with.

Child dies from suspected meningitis

Microscopic image of bacteria. Credit: ITV News

A 6-year-old boy from Wiltshire has died from suspected meningitis.

Paramedics were called to an address in Highworth on Friday morning and although the boy was taken to Great Western Hospital he died a short time later.

Public Health England have said they are identifying those who had close contact with the child and offering them antibiotics, but that there is no need for wider groups of children to take medication.

They have also warned parents to be alert to the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, including vomiting, a severe headache, neck stiffness, drowsiness and a rash.

We pass our sincerest condolences to the family at this tragic time. It is important to emphasise that the risk of this suspected case spreading to others is extremely low.

We reassure people, particularly parents who may be feeling concerned, that all necessary actions are being taken to protect the public.

– Dr Ayoola Oyinloye, Swindon Borough Council Public Health Consultant
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