Preparing for winter in your local NHS

Spotlight

Preparing for winter in your local NHS

For a number of years, the NHS has been facing increased demands on it’s services. But as the winter months approach, those numbers can start to creep ever higher. From seasonal viruses and illnesses like flu and norovirus, to the impact of the colder weather, and darker days on our mental health, there are many reasons why more people need support from the NHS over winter.

NHS organisations across the country have been preparing for what is referred to as ‘winter pressures’, and at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, we’re no different.

This winter, our focus is on caring for people in the right way, in the right place, and at the right time – and we’ve created this page to act as a hub of information on all things winter.

Minor Injury Units and community services

While it’s important to go to hospital if you are very ill or need surgery, we have hundreds of services that can bring healthcare either closer to, or directly to, your home.

We have 7 Minor Injury Units (MIUs) in our community hospitals based at Frome, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Chard, Bridgwater, Minehead, and Burnham-on-Sea. They are all run by emergency nurse practitioners – nurses with specialised training and skills in emergency and urgent care – who are supported by staff nurses and healthcare assistants.

Our MIUs provide urgent care to patients closer to where they live, keeping our emergency departments free to manage critically ill patients and those with life-threatening major injuries.

Please make sure to check your local MIU page for up-to-date opening information before attending.

We also have teams of district nurses visiting patients across the county every day, as well as our support services such as Rapid Response and Discharge to Assess. There are also prevention services such as our homeless and rough sleepers service, supporting those who need us.

You may not have heard of many of our community services, but when you need them, they can be a way to receive care and treatment without having to travel to or stay in hospital.

Hospital@Home is one of the services helping patients to stay at home this winter. The service provides hospital treatment at home, helping patients to leave hospital sooner or avoid a hospital stay altogether, when recovering from an illness or operation, or when receiving treatment.

Patients are monitored by a team of experienced clinicians such as consultants, nurses, therapists, healthcare assistants, and social workers, via telephone, video consultations, and remote digital monitoring devices. They are constantly reviewed, as they would be in hospital, while receiving the highest level of care in the comfort of their own home. The service has cared for over 1,600 patients so far, and for these patients, being able to recover at home has made all the difference. We recently featured the Hospital@Home service as part of a UK-first in completing a closure of ileostomy as day surgery.

Mental health support

An ever-growing area where people need support, is through our mental health services, and that is never more evident than during the festive period. While Christmas and New Year can be a time of celebration for some, it can also be incredibly difficult for others.

Somerset’s Open Mental Health Alliance offers support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and there really is no wrong door when it comes to accessing mental health support.

Being part of the alliance means that services under Open Mental Health have a strong link to the NHS, just like the Mindline support line. Our colleagues at Mindline offer more than just a listening ear, also providing a safe place to talk for anyone experiencing distress or seeking information about mental health and local support services.

Importantly, the service is available over the holidays – including Christmas Day.

If you know or think you are experience depression, anxiety, or PTSD, and you’re registered with a GP in Somerset, you can also self-refer into our Talking Therapies service. You simply fill in the online referral form, and a member of the team will be in touch.

Not sure where to go? Other healthcare options this winter

Our NHS services are ready to care for you this winter, but there are a number of different options on where to get healthcare support…

NHS 111

If you’re unsure where to go, NHS 111, will advise you of the best place to go depending on what you need, and which service is in the best position to care for you.

You can either call 111, or use NHS 111 Online.

Pharmacies

If you're feeling unwell, pharmacists are fully qualified to advise you on the best course of action. Visiting your local pharmacy when you feel like you’re coming down with something (even if it’s just a seasonal cough or cold) can be the best and quickest way to help you recover and get back to normal.

Visit the NHS Somerset website for pharmacy opening times over the festive period.

Emergency departments (A&E) and 999

Of course, there are some occasions where coming to the emergency department is the safest option. Our emergency departments at Musgrove Park and Yeovil District hospitals, and our local ambulance service, are available 24/7, 365 days a year for life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

Please keep these services free for those who urgently need them – if your illness or injury isn’t life-threatening, consider using a different healthcare service instead. It might be much better suited, and much quicker too.

You can find information on the huge range of services available in Somerset over on the Live Well this Winter page on the Somerset Integrated Care Board website.

Maternity services

If you become unwell or have any concerns about your heath, including your baby’s movements, we advise you to call us as soon as possible for advice. Our maternity services will be open 24/7, including weekends and Bank Holidays, for anyone who needs us. Please do not wait until the situation becomes serious, we want to be able to see you early and ensure you get the care and support you need.

These support lines are 24 hours a day 7 days a week:

Musgrove Triage: 01823 343985

Yeovil Triage: 01935 384350

For more information about our maternity services visit the Maternity webpages(somersetft.nhs.uk)