Heatwave warning – nurses urged to keep themselves and their patients hydrated

Temperatures in England could exceed 30ºC over the next few days as Met Office raises heat-health watch to level 2

Temperatures in the UK could exceed 30ºC over the next few days as Met Office raises heat-health watch to level 2

Heatwave warning
A hydration station for patients and staff at Avening Ward, Cheltenham General Hospital.
Picture: Alexandra Heys/Twitter

Nurses are being urged to stay hydrated during this week’s heatwave – and ensure their patients do the same.

The Met Office has raised its heat-health watch to level 2 for England in response to rising temperatures which could exceed 30ºC.

Readiness and swift action

A level 2 alert means there is an 80% chance of heatwave conditions from today until Thursday evening.  

The alert level also represents an important stage for social and healthcare services to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential heatwave. This includes district nurses identifying vulnerable patients on their lists and schools nurses watching out for young people with disabilities and complex health needs.

The RCN has urged nurses to follow its hydration guidelines. Meanwhile, nurses have been sharing on social media how they are keeping cool in the hot weather.




RCN professional lead for acute, emergency and critical care Anna Crossley urged people to watch for signs that they or others were experiencing ill health as a result of the heat. ‘Commonly these include symptoms such as heat rash, headache, thirst and swelling ankles. If you or another person experiences this, help yourself, help others, and get into the shade,’ she said. 

Temperatures climbing

The Met Office chief meteorologist Frank Saunders predicts temperatures could exceed 30ºC today.

‘As warmer air from the continent moves towards the UK from Wednesday, temperatures will climb into the mid to high 20s quite widely, even in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland,’ he said.

‘By this stage, some places in England and Wales will very likely top 30ºC – it’s not unlikely somewhere could reach 32ºC.

‘With almost wall-to-wall sunshine we’ll certainly be looking at conditions which many of us would call a heatwave.’

Look after yourself

Earlier this year, the RCN published new guidelines designed to help nurses ensure they are hydrated at work.

The Rest, Rehydrate, Refuel guidelines emphasise that nurses must first look after themselves to effectively care for patients.

‘There is evidence to suggest that fatigue and dehydration can affect cognition, making errors more likely,’ the document reads.

How to keep hydrated

• Come onto a shift well hydrated and ensure that you keep hydrated during your shift by sipping water regularly

• Look out for the warning signs of dehydration, such as dark urine, dizziness, headaches and fatigue, and act on these

• If you are not able to access drinking water, speak to your manager or raise it with your RCN workplace representative – it could be a breach of health and safety law.

Vulnerable need support

Public Health England’s principal environmental public health scientist Owen Landeg urged people to support those who are particularly vulnerable to heatwaves.

'For some people, such as older people, those with underlying health conditions and those with young children, the summer heat can bring real health risks,’ he said.

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