Ahead of the upcoming bank holiday weekend, people living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being encouraged to choose the right healthcare option and, in turn, help busy NHS services focus on caring for those most in need.
The appeal from senior doctors comes at a time when the region’s hospitals continue to see a high number of admissions to their respective emergency departments and urgent treatment centres.
People in need of healthcare over the weekend should think about using other services wherever possible, such as NHS 111, which can provide quick and timely advice, as well as provide a route into other services, over the phone or online, as well as local pharmacies, many of which will be open on Monday 3 May.
Dr Andrew Girdher, Clinical Chair, said: “Choosing the right healthcare option not only helps people to be seen quicker and in the right environment, but it also means our busy doctors and nurses in hospital are able to focus their valuable time on the people most in need of care.
“The NHS 111 service is a fantastic asset for local people as it can literally put health and care information in the palm of your hand, as well as get you a timed arrival slot at the relevant healthcare service.
“It’s not just for use on health concerns that could require hospital treatment either, NHS 111 can help out with those less serious health problems too, which could save someone from calling one of our many GP practices which, like the hospitals, are also incredibly busy right now.”
Due to current social distancing guidelines, space has been reduced in both waiting rooms and clinical areas at each of the hospitals, meaning that urgent and emergency services are now more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed.
Dr Charlotte Forsyth, Medical Director, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our urgent and emergency services are under significant pressure at
the moment which means that unfortunately people may face longer waits to be seen due to the high volume of people attending. This is likely to continue over the next few days and through the bank holiday weekend.
“Given the pressure we are currently under, we ask people to consider seeking alternative forms of treatment before attending the Emergency Department or Urgent Treatment Centre. This will allow our teams to see patients with very serious or life-threatening health conditions as quickly as possible and prevent our services from being overwhelmed.
“We would like to echo the call for those with a medical problem to use NHS 111 first however, please be assured that our doors are always open to anyone in need of emergency treatment.”
The NHS 111 service can be accessed for free by calling 111 from any mobile phone or landline, or by visiting 111.nhs.uk on any laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Full details of all local health and care services can be found online at http://www.bswccg.nhs.uk.