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GPs and health leaders in Somerset are asking people to ‘talk before you walk’ this Christmas so that they get the right treatment, first time, when they are unwell.

By ringing NHS 111 for advice on which service to use before leaving the house, you will be signposted to the most appropriate service for your needs, closest to where you live, saving you time and travel.

Dr Helen Thomas, Urgent Care Lead for Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP, said: “We know that when people are ill, or if their child becomes unwell, they want to talk to a health professional as quickly as possible.

“Rather than heading straight to A&E or their GP surgery, seeking expert advice from NHS 111 on the most appropriate service for their need can often mean that they are helped more quickly.

“Our Somerset NHS 111 advisers are fully trained and are supported by experienced GPs, nurses and paramedics. They will ask questions to assess your symptoms, then offer healthcare advice or direct you to the service that can help you best.

In addition, Somerset is increasing the availability of appointments at GP practices at evenings and weekends so that you can access an appointment when you need to.

Helen added: “If you call 111 at the weekend and the advisers think you should be seen by a GP or nurse, they will direct you to the nearest appropriate venue for a face-to-face appointment. Unregistered patients are also welcome.

“We know that flu-like illnesses, Norovirus and other winter illnesses are already present in Somerset. To make sure you get the help you need at the right time and in the right place, I would encourage everyone who lives in Somerset to ‘talk before they walk’ this Christmas. If you or a member of your family is unwell, please call NHS 111 for advice and signposting to the most appropriate service. As we all know, A&E is for patients with life-threatening illnesses and injuries.”