Funding announced to help Somerset hospitals cope with winter demand as pressure on local urgent and emergency care services increases. 

It was announced yesterday that NHS trusts in Somerset have been allocated nearly £2million to upgrade their facilities ahead of winter.

Health leaders in Somerset have welcomed the announcement, which comes as Somerset experiences increasing levels of demand for local urgent and emergency care services.

Helen Thomas, Associate Clinical Director for urgent and emergency care at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said “We welcome this additional funding to support hospitals in Somerset prepare for winter.

“Both Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Somerset Foundation Trust will be using this funding to increase capacity within Emergency Department waiting areas with Yeovil creating a new Specialty Assessment Unit and Fracture Clinic and Musgrove Park building a new Urgent Care Centre located next to the emergency department (A&E) and expanding the same day emergency care service. 

“Health care in Somerset looks different now; staff are wearing protective equipment, social distancing is in place, and we are asking all visitors to health care settings to wear a face covering, including in GPs, pharmacies and hospitals.

“The NHS in Somerset is here to help you and you can support us by only using emergency services (A&E) in a life-threatening emergency. You can help us by using the range of local health services available such as GP practices, minor injuries units and pharmacies which can help with a range of non-emergency conditions.”

Emergency departments in Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust have seen attendance numbers rise to the same levels seen before lockdown.

Chief Operating Officer Simon Sethi said: “These funds will make a big difference to patients attending ED by increasing waiting room space to deal with social distancing and creating a new Specialty Assessment Unit adjacent to ED. These projects are just part of a range of works we will be undertaking in advance of winter to ensure the hospital is able to deliver the best care for our patients and a high quality and safe environment for our staff given the new challenges posed by COVID-19.”  

Patients can help to reduce pressure on services by using the most appropriate NHS service for their needs and using hospital emergency departments (A&E) for serious and life-threatening emergencies only. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured, such as for a suspected heart attack or stroke.

Dr James Gagg, emergency department Clinical Director & Consultant at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We are here to help you when you need emergency care, but we would encourage you to use the excellent range of other urgent health services available in Somerset. Due to social distancing measures in all our healthcare settings, it’s important that you are going to the right place to get the care you need. You can get help with a range of non-emergency conditions and get advice at your GP practice, as well as at your local minor injuries unit or pharmacy.

“There are seven minor injuries units in Somerset open 7 days a week. They are located in the community hospitals at Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Frome, Minehead, Shepton Mallet and West Mendip Hospital (near Glastonbury). Minor injuries units can treat a wide range of conditions including throat and chest infections, eye infections, urinary infections, emergency contraception, sprains and strains, broken bones as well as wounds and bites.

“If you are unsure what health services you need for your illness or ailment, telephone NHS 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk – it’s free to use and available 24 hours a day.”

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