Spotlight

People in Somerset urged to choose the right healthcare services after a rise in attendance at hospitals with minor illnesses

As restrictions ease across the country and the hot weather is forecast to continue for the next few days, people are being asked to only choose hospital emergency departments (A&E) for serious and life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

The NHS in Somerset is currently experiencing a high demand across all healthcare services, meaning GP surgeries, hospitals, community health services, mental health services and social care are all very busy.

In the past week local A&E departments have seen very high numbers of people who are acutely unwell who require specialist hospital care, as well as people who are coming in with minor illnesses such as sunburn, insect bites and ticks that don’t require emergency treatment. By choosing the right healthcare service, people with minor illnesses will be able to be seen more quickly by using more local services such as Minor Injury Units or pharmacies.

Dr Alex Murray, Clinical Director at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said “The NHS is here for everyone and we’re working hard to ensure we can help people when they need us - but to do this, we need everyone’s support. If you need medical advice or treatment and are not sure where to go – call NHS 111 first, or go to www.111.nhs.uk for immediate advice, 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.”

“Please remember that our Emergency Departments (A&E) are for serious and life-threatening emergencies and injuries. And that there is a broad range of local healthcare services where you can access advice and treatment. For advice and care on most summer conditions including hay fever, heat exhaustion, insect bites and sunburn, as well as wider minor illnesses and injuries such as falls, you can visit your local community pharmacy and speak to a highly experienced pharmacist who can give you advice and recommend products and medication.”

Minor injury units can treat sprains, broken bones, wounds and minor infections and most GP surgeries offer online services where you can order a prescription or arrange a health appointment by video or phone, helping to ensure that face to face appointments are given to those with most complex health conditions.

If you’re feeling unwell or have a minor injury, before contacting your GP, you can look up your symptoms online using the NHS App, the www.nhs.uk. NHS website or 111 online.  Parents can also download the HANDi Paediatric app that gives up-to-date advice about common childhood illnesses and how to treat them.

Keeping a well-stocked medicines cabinet also helps to deal with many common illnesses and injuries that can be treated at home – talk to your pharmacist about remedies.

If you are visiting any of our health services from 19 July, thank you for helping to keep our staff and the most vulnerable people safe by wearing a face covering. Please continue to follow all social distancing rules to help support your NHS.