A RISE in Covid cases and a surge in demand for health and care services across Somerset is putting the NHS under "extreme pressure".

Pressures are being seen across the system due to high demand for services, sustained demand for Covid beds, pressure on staffing and the need for social care exceeding the available capacity.

Mental health care, primary care (GPs) and adult social care as well as our acute hospital trusts are all struggling to meet demand as the NHS faces unprecedented challenges this winter.

People are being asked to play their part and to access NHS services wisely as the pandemic continues into autumn and winter.

The public are being asked to get the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time.

  • If you’re unwell and are unsure about where to go, visit 111.nhs.uk;
  • Or call NHS 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do;
  • 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, 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.

James Rimmer, chief executive at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Demand for services such as GP appointments and treatment in emergency departments has risen substantially, we’re facing more challenges in discharging people home from hospital and patients are facing increasingly lengthy waits for treatment.

“A combination of increasing numbers of coronavirus cases, staff absences coupled with a surge in people wanting same-day urgent and emergency care, has resulted in hospitals, GP services and the ambulance service experiencing increased demand on their services.

“Our priorities are always those patients with the most urgent need.

"Calling 999 or visiting an emergency department for anything less than a genuine, life-threatening emergency takes already-stretched healthcare workers away from their sickest patients, who are most in need of urgent medical care.

“If people have minor ailments they can get advice from nhs.uk and the local pharmacy.

"Pharmacists are experts on medicines, are very knowledgeable and can advise on whether another NHS service is required.

"If a person’s illness does not go away after a few days or is getting worse, then they should contact their GP surgery."