Bernie Marden, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Somerset says Bernie Marden, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Somerset says “Cold weather and seasonal infections can be seriously bad for your health. That’s why it’s important to look after yourself and your family, especially during the winter. Somerset has a wide range of services to help everyone stay fit and healthy.
“Winter is often a challenging time for the NHS, particularly over the festive season when services become busier and are more limited over the bank holiday period.
“We’ve put together a handy guide on our website to help you access services to look after your health in Somerset over the festive season. Visit https://nhssomerset.nhs.uk/my-health/winter-2023/”
“Regardless of any strike action taking place, it’s really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk”.
Strike action 20 – 23 December
Ahead of the Christmas bank holidays, we also have strikes taking place. The British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) have announced junior doctors and dental trainees will take strike action from 0700 on Wednesday 20 December until 0700 on Saturday 23 December.
This will affect services at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. Teams across the trust are working together to ensure that it can continue to provide urgent and emergency care for all patients, and to keep as many services running as possible.
It’s likely for non-urgent cases there will be longer waiting times in the Emergency Department.
If the Trust needs to change any planned appointments it will try to give you as much notice as possible, but on occasion, may need to make some last-minute changes to planned procedures or appointments.
If you have an appointment, please attend as planned. Please don’t call to check if your appointment is going ahead. If your appointment is affected by industrial action, your clinic will contact you directly.
Anyone with a non-urgent care need should first seek help from NHS 111, before attending our hospital sites.
Further information on NHS services, opening hours and waiting times can also be found by downloading the NHS Quicker App.
You can find more information about looking after your health this winter on NHS Somerset website.
Top Tips on accessing care over the festive holidays
You can use 111 online, the NHS App or call 111 for help and advice if you are feeling unwell. If needed, 111 can arrange for a clinician to call you back to discuss your health or advise you on which is the best service to help you. 111 can also help you access emergency prescriptions, if you are running out of medication.
Currently the service is experiencing high call volumes so if you are calling 111, please be patient as calls can take five minutes or more to be answered.
111 online has 120 topics covering most common symptoms.
There are many minor illnesses that can affect anyone over the winter months from coughs and colds to eye and ear infections and skin conditions.
For many of these, your local community pharmacist can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines to help relieve symptoms.
Community pharmacies are staffed with community pharmacists who can offer clinical advice including for childhood conditions.
Some pharmacies will be open over the bank holidays during the festive season for more information on which community pharmacies will be open over the bank holidays visit NHS England — South West » Pharmacy opening hours
Sadly, we know that cases of domestic violence increase over the festive season. This is not just physical but also emotional abuse. In an emergency, please call 999.
You can call 0800 6949999 (option 2) 8 am – 8 pm seven days a week
The helpline will be open 9am-1pm Christmas day and bank holidays.
If you need emergency care, please continue to call 999 or use your nearest accident and emergency department. Do contact 111 first if you are unsure if you need to use A&E services.
Getting your loved one’s home for Christmas
If your loved one is in hospital and well enough to leave, help support them to get home at the earliest opportunity.
Our GPs in Somerset have never been busier. There are a wide range of staff at our GPs that can help you manage your health from mental health nurses and physiotherapists to pharmacists, paramedics to health coaches, as well as GPs.
For the year September 2019/2020 there were 249,176 GP appointments in Somerset. This increased to 325,098 appointments in September – 2023 – a 30% increase.
For the year 2019/2020 there were 198,632 face-to-face appointments. This increased to 209,715 for 2023 – a 6.5% increase.
You can book telephone as well as face to face appointments and some GP’s also offer online appointments. 95% of people do attend their appointments. If you are unable to attend, please let your practice know so they can offer your appointment to someone else who needs care.
Make sure you have enough regular medication and don’t leave repeat prescription requests until you have run out. Your GP practice can help arrange an urgent medication supply if you do run out you can order your prescription via the NHS App or in an emergency contact 111.
There are apps you can download with advice to help you look after you child. Visit our apps page to download the apps.
Support with your mental health
People can struggle with their mental health over the festive season. Help is at hand. We have face to face safe spaces and a 24-hour helpline that you can call. You can also access help and advice via our Open Mental Health website.
If you or someone you know struggles with an out-of-hours mental health crisis this Christmas, book a session with the Crisis Safe Space team.
- Fri 22nd Dec, Face-to-face sessions in Glastonbury, Taunton, Yeovil & Bridgwater from 6pm until 11pm
- Sat 23rd Dec to Mon 1st Jan, Remote service available via phone or Zoom – Somerset wide from 6pm until 11pm.
- Tues 2nd Jan, Face-to-face sessions in Glastonbury, Taunton, Yeovil & Bridgwater from 6pm until 11pm
Mindline remains open to offer support every day 24/7.
Shout Text: 85258 Website: https://giveusashout.org/
Is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.
If you struggle to pick up and ring to ask for help, you can contact Shout via text on the number below. SHOUT will work with you to find ways to help you access the support you have in place as well as other forms of support available to you. They will also contact emergency services or social services if needed.
Minor Injury Units
You can attend your local minor injuries unit for urgent not life-threatening conditions and injuries such as sprains, fractures and burns. For the latest information on opening hours and services, visit the MIU pages.
Urgent Community Response
If you or someone you care for needs urgent care at home for example because you have had a fall, having become increasingly confused or have had a sudden deterioration in your health, we can come to your home within two hours of receiving a referral. You can ask for a referral by contacting 111, your GP, you alarm response service or when you contact 999.
The service is here for anyone over 18 and are open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Watch our video for more information around how the service works.