Spotlight

NHS and social care services in Somerset are under extreme pressure

Health and social care services throughout Somerset are under extreme pressure, more significant than at any time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prevalence rates of coronavirus in the county have reached their highest levels since the start of the pandemic and the number of patients with COVID-19 that the NHS is caring for remain high.

Seasonal pressures and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic mean that there is a very limited number of beds available in hospitals and care homes across Somerset, and there are high numbers of staff who are off work, either with COVID-19 symptoms or isolating. COVID-19 has not gone away and is having a bigger impact on health and care services in Somerset than ever before.

Dr Dan Meron, Chief Medical Officer for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Across both our trusts we are caring for approximately 200 patients with coronavirus and we are juggling absence rates of between 6% and 8% as a direct result of colleagues being ill with the virus. The measures hospitals and other healthcare settings work within mean that this has a massive impact on the running of our services. Very sadly this also impacts on the planned care – the operations and other procedures that patients have waited a long time for - because we simply don’t have the beds in which to care for them and we have large gaps in our staffing rotas.

“Our colleagues have worked very hard for two years to care for patients who need urgent and planned care, and to care for the patients with COVID-19 who need our services. We are currently dealing with one of the most difficult periods of this pandemic and we are asking the public for their help and understanding. Please do all you can to limit the spread of coronavirus – it is very much still here and affecting your local health services. You can also really help us by supporting a family member or loved one to leave hospital when they are medically fit to do so. That will enable us to admit another person who needs our care. Also think carefully about whether you need our services now at this time when we are under extreme pressure. However, I must emphasise that we are here for you and you should not hesitate to contact us if you require urgent attention.”

NHS and local authority social workers across Somerset are working tirelessly to keep services running to support us all – keeping our loved ones, families, neighbours, and local communities safe and well. However, Musgrove Park Hospital, Yeovil Hospital and the county’s community hospital have taken the difficult decision to temporarily restrict visiting to patients receiving end of life care and for carers of patients with specific needs that require the support of a carer. Details are available on the NHS trusts’ websites.

Dr Ed Ford, Chairman Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Your local GP surgery, and all the staff who work across the county, continue to work tirelessly to support the health and care needs of their communities. During this incredibly challenging time, GP practices are working hard to ensure patients who need an urgent consultation are prioritised. This might mean that you may experience delays for less urgent conditions.  Thank you for being patient and kind to our staff if you need to wait longer to have your enquiry dealt with.  You can also continue to support us by seeking help from the NHS website which has lots of advice about self-management and can direct you to the most appropriate service if you need it. Most importantly you can help by doing all you can to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

You can help ease the pressure and ensure services are there for people who need them most:  

  • Use NHS services wisely to get the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time. Our hospital emergency departments are under extreme pressure.  If you’re unwell and are unsure about where to go, visit nhs.uk or call 111.
  • Contact your local pharmacist for minor health issues.
  • Use the HANDi paediatric app for advice on common childhood illnesses.
  • Only ever call 999 in a medical emergency– this is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
  • Support loved ones to leave hospital so that they can be more comfortable and recover more quickly at home. The support of relatives and friends can be important in enabling patients who are medically ready to leave hospital.
  • Do not visit friends or family in hospital if you have COVID-19, stay away from hospital if you have COVID-19.

For more information on local services visit https://www.somersetccg.nhs.uk/health/choose-well/.

If you need urgent care our staff are here for you. As staff manage the additional pressures they are facing you may have to wait longer to be seen. Please be patient and kind when you speak to our teams.

COVID-19 is still with us, rates in Somerset are currently the highest we have seen over the past two years. The end of restrictions doesn’t mean COVID-19 has gone away and we need to keep managing it.

Help stop the spread:

  • Get vaccinated – for the latest information visit https://www.somersetccg.nhs.uk/covid-vaccines/
  • Wear a face mask in health settings
  • Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors – meeting outdoors is safer
  • Get tested and stay at home if you have symptoms to avoid passing COVID-19 and other infectious diseases on to other people, particularly those who are most vulnerable
  • Stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you test positive
  • Wash your hands regularly and cover coughs and sneezes

For more information visit www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do