Tanya Easterby

Silly-season puts pressure on emergency departments

IT WOULD not be the festive season without a backpacker having to go to hospital because they could not handle the harsh Australian sun.

Whether it is a sunburnt backpacker, a man who nailed his hand to a piece of timber with a nail gun he received for Christmas or a young boy impaling his leg on the fin of a surfboard - it is one of many injuries emergency department personnel are faced with over the festive season.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said on Tuesday the Christmas period was historically a busy time for hospitals across the state.

"Emergency departments are called emergency departments for a reason," he said.

"The last thing our doctors and nurses need is people coming in with silly season injuries.

"I would encourage everyone to find out where they can see a general practitioner over Christmas for minor injuries, coughs or colds.

"If there is an emergency, always call 000, but please use common sense as to whether it is necessary."

Queensland Ambulance Service Commissioner Russell Bowles said each year personnel were called out to incidents that could have been avoided.

"People will head out in the hottest part of the day without enough water or sun protection and it is only a matter of time before they are struck down by heat exhaustion or even heat stroke," he said.

Mr Springborg said common injuries were eye trauma, broken bones, burns and even electric shocks from home DIY projects.

"If people just took basic commonsense precautions, most of these injuries would be avoidable," he said.