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Patients in Somerset are set to benefit from new primary care services to help support them during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, thanks to the efforts of local health partners. 

Primary Care Networks consisting of local GPs, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, alongside other system partners are making sure that patients are seen safely as close to home as possible.

Primary assessment centres are being set up across the county where patients with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) can be seen after assessment by the NHS 111 Clinical Assessment Service or their local GP practice.

Every Primary Care Network across the county has a plan in place to see patients safely. This may be within their own GP practices, working with other GP practices utilising a specific practice location nearby; or using a local community hospital. Patients will be told which unit to visit once they have been assessed by the NHS 111 Clinical Assessment Service or their GP practice.

The first community hospital primary assessment centre has now opened at Bridgwater Community Hospital. The urgent care and minor injuries unit will remain open seven days a week with an X-ray facility available every day.

This new service will be supported by clinical staff from Burnham-on-Sea Community Hospital’s minor injuries unit (MIU) which will temporarily close during this period.

A  primary assessment centre, located at Burnham-on-Sea Community Hospital will support patients with suspected COVID-19 in North Sedgemoor. Other areas of Somerset will benefit from primary assessment centres located in GP practices.  

Patients who would have sought treatment at the MIU in Burnham-on-Sea should contact their GP practices for support.

Somerset’s other MIUs, located at Frome, Shepton Mallet, Chard, West Mendip and Minehead are also open and will continue to operate as a walk-in service.

These changes have been made in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and are temporary. They will remain under review throughout the period of the outbreak. If you are not sure where to go, ring NHS 111 for help and advice and for emergencies, call 999.

Dr Andrea Trill, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s Medical Director for Integrated and Primary Care Services, said, “The NHS in Somerset is pulling together to ensure that we have the resources, including staff and services, in the right place to care for people in Somerset if they fall ill. My thanks go to the MIU staff and to GP practices, who are working differently and to the local community, whom I hope will understand why we have made this temporary move.”

Dr Alex Murray, Somerset GP and Clinical Director at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “I would like to thank everyone involved in the planning of these new primary care assessment centres in such a short space of time. I would also like to thank GP practices in Somerset who have been hugely supportive in helping to develop this service. These will support local people with symptoms of COVID-19 who may require additional clinical advice, as well as maintaining the important minor injuries service across Somerset during this time.

“I’d also like to remind people that the fastest way to get the latest health information and advice on coronavirus is by visiting the NHS website. People should phone NHS 111 if their symptoms worsen or have not improved after seven days. The new local primary assessment centres will be by appointment only and will not provide testing facilities.”