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Flooding and effects on health and wellbeing

Issued on behalf of NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group

Dr Hamish Stedman, Salford GP and Chair of NHS Salford CCG, said:

“Unfortunately the damage that flooding can cause isn’t just to property and our belongings. Sadly, it can also cause on people’s physical health. It can also cause significant emotional distress.

“Flood water is often contaminated because bursting rivers and storms can become mixed with waste as it washes through farmland, whilst human sewage can flow into flood water as it spills out of overflowing drains, septic tanks and toilets. So it is really important to wash your hands after cleaning up any debris.

“Eating food with unwashed hands or swallowing contaminated flood water can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and tummy cramps.

“Most cases in adults will pass in two to four days but, if you’re concerned, you should seek advice from your pharmacist or GP. Babies and those who have serious long-term illnesses (for instance those peoples who have been advised to have a flu jab) should seek help earlier, as should anyone with blood-stained diarrhoea.

“Please mention that you’ve been in contact with floodwater.

“It’s also important to remember that your mental health may be affected during and after flooding. This distress can last for a long time after the water has gone. Sometimes this effect on how we feel is not obvious straight away.

“If you find that you are struggling with low mood that won’t go away, feeling ‘fed up’ all the time or often feeling nervous and anxious for no obvious reason, seeking help is sensible. Just as the tummy struggles with germs, our heads can sometimes struggle with the stress of the shock of being flooded.

“In the first instance, you should contact your GP or you can self-refer to Six Degrees Social Enterprise which is an organisation based in Salford that provides hep for people who are having problems dealing with stress/nervous illnesses.

“Six Degrees can be contacted on 0161 212 4350 during office hours for referral and appointment queries.

“If your GP surgery is closed and you feel you need help before it is next open, then call 111 and speak to a highly trained adviser, supported by healthcare professionals. They will ask you a series of questions to assess your symptoms and immediately direct you to the best medical care for you.”

The 111 service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

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Editor at large, SalfordOnline.com