Stay Informed

During the winter months our health and care services across Somerset experience high levels of demand, meaning GP surgeries, hospitals, accident and emergency, community health services, mental health services, social care and our ambulance service are all very busy.


The ongoing pandemic has increased the demand for services even further and so choosing the most appropriate service for your needs can not only help you be seen more quickly, but can also help those with more serious illnesses or injuries get care quicker too.

For example, people with minor illnesses will be able to be seen more quickly by using their local services such as Minor Injury Units or community pharmacies.

If you’re unwell and are unsure about where to go, visit 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.

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. Contact your care provider or Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224.
  • 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 page 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.

Using online services

This winter, we’re asking as many people as possible to use and register for online health services.

Registering online can help save you time when ordering prescriptions or booking appointments meaning people who urgently need to contact their local practice can get through quicker.

Also, if you know a family member or neighbour who doesn’t have access to or use the internet, share local health or coronavirus guidance with them so they are up to date with the latest news.

Ways to get online with your health needs:

  • Need health advice but unsure where to go? Use NHS 111 online and get help fast. The website will be able to offer support and if appropriate, direct you to the right place for your need.
  • Did you know you can sign up to your local practice’s online services so you can easily order medication, book appointments and view test results quickly? For more information visit your practice’s website.
  • The way you access GP services has evolved throughout the coronavirus pandemic. If you need an appointment at your local practice, you may be offered a telephone call or video consultation to help protect you and staff from the virus.
  • Many local pharmacies offer online apps where you can set medication reminders and order your prescriptions electronically, speak to your local pharmacy team and see if you can go paperless.
  • The NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone, PC or tablet.
  • Not sure what to do if your child is unwell? Download the free HANDi Paediatric App and get expert advice about common childhood illnesses and how to treat them.
  • Search a range of safe and clinically approved healthcare apps and online tools on the Somerset App Library to help manage your health and wellbeing.