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Tuesday 10 January 2023

NHS services across Somerset are under extreme pressure. An increase in Flu as well as other seasonal viruses, continue to impact both primary care as well as our hospitals.

On Wednesday 11 January, staff at The South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST) will be on strike. It is urging the public to think carefully before dialling 999 during industrial action, so it has crews available for the most life-threatening conditions and can prioritise these patients.

It is asking patients to only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency, when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

SWAST know this means there are likely to be patients waiting for an ambulance and are sorry that it may not be able to respond as quickly as it would like.  It is asking the public not to call back asking for arrival times as this blocks their lines from other callers reaching them.

Patients should take advice from 111 / 999 call-handlers on whether there are circumstances where it is suitable for them to make their own way to hospital

Bernie Marden, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Somerset said

“The NHS in Somerset is working extremely hard to keep services running and to keep people safe. This will be especially important during the planned ambulance service industrial action taking place on Wednesday 11 January. Regardless of any industrial action taking place, it is important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk. Despite this, we are asking people to use NHS services wisely and to carefully consider whether they need our services now, especially as the impact of the industrial action will be felt across the NHS.”

For medical care and advice, people are advised to visit 111 online first before calling 111, leaving 999 for life-threatening medical or mental health emergencies.

Parents can also find advice and guidance on common childhood illnesses on the HANDi App which is available for Android phones on Google Play or on the App store for iPhone and iPad. Advice and guidance can also be found online at NHS Somerset.

By playing your part you can help ensure that key services remain available for those who genuinely need urgent healthcare support and advice, while also ensuring that people are directed to the right service for their healthcare needs.

Anyone with a medical appointment booked on the days when industrial action is planned, please continue to attend your appointment as planned. The NHS will contact people directly if their appointment needs to be rescheduled.

While health and social care services in Somerset are working together to discharge patients who are medically fit to leave hospital, families are also being urged to support their loved ones to leave hospital so they can be more comfortable and recover more quickly at home.

The NHS across Somerset remains open for those who need urgent care. However, as staff manage the additional pressures, patients may have to wait longer to be seen. During this time, please be patient and kind when dealing with our health and care staff.