Spotlight

Health and care services in Somerset continue to be under pressure – choose well

Health and care services in Somerset are currently experiencing high demand across all healthcare settings, meaning GP surgeries, hospitals, accident and emergency, community health services, mental health services, social care and our ambulance service are all very busy.

Hospitals across Somerset are working together to address the significant challenges they are facing with rising demand for care across routine, urgent and emergency services.

The NHS is here for everyone and we aim to ensure health services are available for you when you become ill, but to do this, we need everyone’s support – choosing well ensures you get the right care for your needs.

If you’re unwell and are unsure about where to go, visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111. Please be patient and choose the right care. At this very busy time, your 111 call may take a little longer to answer than usual but staff will get to you as quickly as possible.

For ongoing or non-urgent concerns please contact your local pharmacist or GP practice.

Call 999 in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

Because of the number of people needing care, there are currently longer waits for routine appointments than usual. The NHS in Somerset is doing all it can to reduce waiting times both in General Practice and in the hospitals.

James Rimmer, Chief Executive at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“Demand for services such as GP appointments and treatment in emergency departments has risen substantially, we’re facing more challenges in discharging people home from hospital and patients are facing increasingly lengthy waits for treatment.

"A combination of increasing numbers of coronavirus cases, staff absences coupled with a surge in people wanting same-day urgent and emergency care, has resulted in hospitals, GP services and the ambulance service experiencing increased demand on their services.

"Our priorities are always those patients with the most urgent need.

"Calling 999 or visiting an emergency department for anything less than a genuine, life-threatening emergency takes already-stretched healthcare workers away from their sickest patients, who are most in need of urgent medical care.

"If people have minor ailments they can get advice from nhs.uk and the local pharmacy. Pharmacists are experts on medicines, are very knowledgeable and can advise on whether another NHS service is required.

"If a person’s illness does not go away after a few days or is getting worse, then they should contact their GP surgery.

"We’d like to thank people for their support. We’d also like to thank our hard-working teams who are working incredibly hard to care for those in need.”

Cllr David Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Somerset County Council said:

“We’d like to thank everyone for their help and support in these continuing challenging times for both health and social care. We’re asking families to work with us and our NHS colleagues and help get their loved one home from hospital as soon as they are safely able to do so. We’re also asking anyone who feels they are receiving care at home they no longer need, and only that they no longer need, to contact their care provider or Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224. Staff will then review their care needs with them. This further supports us in allocating care support to those most in need in these high demand times.”

We need your help – here’s what you can do to support your local services:

  • Keep the Emergency Department for emergencies. If your condition isn’t an emergency, choose a different service. You may have to be prepared to wait a bit longer for treatment if it isn’t urgent. Find out more about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E.
  • Use your local pharmacist for minor conditions such as insect bites, ear ache, skin rashes.
  • Keeping a well-stocked medicines cabinet helps to deal with many common illnesses and injuries that can be treated at home – talk to your pharmacist about remedies.
  • Use the HANDi paediatric app for advice on common childhood illnesses.
  • Use NHS 111 – online or by phone if you need advice or medical treatment quickly and can’t wait to see your GP. If you need to be seen by a Minor Injuries or Emergency Department they can book you in.
  • Get your COVID-19 vaccination and have both jabs if you’re eligible.
  • COVID-19 case rates in the south west are among the highest in the country, the virus is still very much here so please continue to maintain social distancing and good hygiene, especially hand hygiene, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Meet outside where possible.
  • Families with loved ones in hospital are being asked to collect their relatives as soon as they have been told they are able to go home, as doing so means more beds are available for newer patients in urgent need of admission.
  • If you are receiving care at home that you think you no longer need please contact your care provider or Adult Social Care so staff can review your care needs. This will support us to make sure care is allocated to help someone else to remain in their own home or leave hospital with the right support.
  • Please be patient and be kind. Our staff are all working hard to ensure people get the right care when they need it.

To find out which service is most relevant for your needs please take a look at our choose well webpage and choose the right service for your health needs. Choosing the right service will ensure you receive the best possible treatment, allowing busy services like hospital Emergency Departments (A&E) to concentrate on helping those most in need.