As flu season begins, NHS Somerset has this week urged Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge residents to consider the alternatives to A&E and 999 for urgent medical treatment.
The NHS says calling 999 or going to hospital A&E departments is sometimes not necessary to get the medical treatment needed, as there are other more effective and less time-consuming ways to treat many injuries and illnesses, including flu.
It says members of the public should consider alternatives such as pharmacies, minor injury units, and even self-care, instead of telephoning 999 for an ambulance or visiting busy hospital Accident and Emergency departments.
The advice comes as local hospitals experience exceptionally high demand which hinders medical professionals from treating very serious cases, and causes great avoidable inconvenience to patients waiting for long periods of time to be seen, many of whom could get treatment elsewhere.
Doctors advise people with flu-like symptoms to rest, drink plenty of water and take paracetamol where needed. However, doctors are reminding people, particularly the elderly, to seek medical advice before they become more seriously ill.
There are more convenient health services available for public to use if they have only minor illness, injury or ailments. These include:
Minor injury units
Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge residents who have urgent need for medical treatment can visit one of the seven Minor Injury Units at community hospitals in Bridgwater, Burnham-On-Sea, Chard, Frome, Minehead, Shepton Mallet and West Mendip Hospital.
Burnham-On-Sea War Memorial Hospital is open from 10:00 – 18:00 (last patient booked in at 17:30). Details of all the Minor Injury Units’ opening hours are available on the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust website at http://www.sompar.nhs.uk/what-
See your local pharmacist
If you are feeling unwell and need advice visit your pharmacy. You don’t need an appointment and they can advise on the best medicines for many common illnesses. You can find your nearest pharmacist by searching online at www.nhs.uk
Contact your GP Practice
If you need to see a GP or member of your GP practice you can book an urgent on-the day appointment by telephoning your practice. GP practices in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge now offer extended access to pre-booked routine appointments up until 8pm in the evening and at weekends. Ask your GP receptionist for details. After your GP surgery has closed and you need urgent advice or medical help, you can ring your surgery’s phone number for recorded message directing you on the best course of action.
Telephone NHS 111
For non-life-threatening emergencies where urgent treatment or advice is needed, Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge residents should telephone NHS 111. The service is free to call from mobiles and landlines and is available 24 hours a day.