Choose well to get well this Winter

Every year accident and emergency departments across the UK see thousands of patients who could be treated more appropriately somewhere else. A visit to a busy district hospital A&E Department is not the right thing to do for only minor ailments; however many people still remain unclear about what a medical emergency is and what level of treatment they really need.

There is a wide range of NHS services and facilities available in Somerset to help people if they become ill during the winter months.

If your injury is not serious you can get help from your nearest community hospital’s Minor Injury Unit (MIU) rather than a district hospital A&E department. By doing so you allow A&E staff to concentrate on the people with serious and life-threatening conditions and save yourself a potentially long wait.

The ‘Choose Well’ health campaign tries to encourage patients to stop and consider what their real level of health needs is. The options can include:

Visit your local pharmacists

Cough or cold, feeling unwell and ill and need advice? Visit your pharmacy for personal advice on common illnesses and for information on the best medicines for treatment.

Self care

If you are stocked up with over the counter treatments then you can look after your cold or flu at home, but make sure you see your pharmacist or GP if troublesome symptoms persist or worsen.

Telephone NHS 111

Help is always close at hand with confidential health advice and information over the phone. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

Visit your GP

There are 75 GP surgeries across the county providing a range of services by appointment, including medical advice, examinations and prescriptions. Should you become ill after your GP surgery has closed the Somerset Out of Hours Emergency Medical Service is available. You can access the number by telephoning your usual GP surgery number and listening to the answer phone message or by telephoning 0845 408 8000.

Somerset Out of Hours Emergency Medical Service

Should you become ill after your GP surgery has closed this service is available. You can access this local service through the non-emergency number by dialling 111.

Go to your nearest community hospital Minor Injury Unit

If your injury is not life-threatening you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU) in a community hospital rather than a busy hospital A&E department. By doing so you allow A&E staff to concentrate on people with serious and life-threatening conditions and save yourself a potentially long wait.

Local MIU units and opening times can be found here

Community Hospital Minor Injuries Units can treat:
• Sprains and strains
• Broken bones (X-ray facilities vary between the MIUs. If you are likely to need this service, please call to check availability.)
• Wound infections
• Minor burns and scalds
• Minor head injuries
• Insect and animal bites
• Minor eye injuries
• Injuries to the back, shoulder and chest

If you are suffering symptoms of stroke, heart attack, or other life threatening conditions or are suffering major injuries then call 999 immediately.

Minor injuries units cannot treat:
• Chest pain
• Breathing difficulties
• Major injuries
• Problems usually dealt with by a GP
• Stomach pains
• Gynaecological problems
• Pregnancy problems
• Allergic reactions
• Overdoses
• Alcohol related problems
• Mental health problems
• Conditions likely to require hospital admission

Accident and Emergency

Only use A&E or call 999 for life threatening and emergency conditions. For further information on how to protect yourself and your family this winter please visit If any member of the public believes they, or a friend or relative, is experiencing a life threatening medical emergency then they should always telephone 999 and ask for an ambulance.