The combined effects of elderly people suffering respiratory illnesses in this continuing bad weather and a higher than normal rate of falls leading to fractures and other injuries, has meant that Darlington Memorial Hospital is on "Red Alert". It is full - there are no beds available for routine surgery patients and all but the most critical new admissions are having to be transferred elsewhere.
This can happen in extreme circumstances, which these weather conditions certainly are.
At least, as the relevant Council Director said at yesterday's Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Committee, the lessons of the first few days of the snow before Christmas have been learnt and the town centre pavements and pedestrianised areas are now being gritted and cleared quickly and efficiently. After a slow start, which I and many others justifiably criticised, the snow clearing operations in the town centre are now excellent.
One big problem which I, and Cllr Copeland, mentioned at yesterday's Cabinet meeting, is that sheltered housing and elderly persons' accommodation is not being targetted for snow clearance. I received an anguished email on Monday from the son of an elderly couple living in sheltered accommodation in Katherine Street, to say that his parents had not been able to leave their flat since before Christmas.
Street Scene promised to get the paths to this accommodation cleared. But since then we've had another heavy downfall of snow. It's never ending: made worse by watching the exciting third Test Match in South Africa where England are battling for survival under clear skies with temperatures up in the 30s.