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Health leaders in Somerset are advising people to choose well this Christmas when it comes to healthcare, urging them to make sure they get the right advice from the right service, depending on their needs.

Dr Ed Ford, Chair of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Minehead GP said: “There are many places to receive care over the holidays; one of the most important places is in your own home. Taking care of yourself and making sure you stock your medicine cabinet up in preparation for Christmas is a great way for you to be ready if a winter illness should strike. Your local pharmacy can help you top up your supplies and also offer medical advice about many common conditions.

“If you think you can’t be cared for at home or your symptoms won’t go away then the best thing to do is to call NHS 111. Trained 111operators will be able to advise you on how best to manage your symptoms and they have clinicians who can call you back if needed. They will also advise you as to whether you need to see someone and can inform you as to where services are available over the holiday period. They may direct you to your GP surgery, the out of hours GP service, local pharmacy or the nearest Minor Injury Unit. Services can get very busy over the Christmas period and we would recommend using NHS 111 as a quick free way to check whether you need to see someone or could avoid an unnecessary trip and a potentially long wait to be seen.

 “If your injury is life-threatening (such as a serious head injury, heart attack or stroke) then you should call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance. Our Accident and Emergency Departments in Somerset see thousands of patients every month, which means they are incredibly busy areas of our healthcare system. It’s therefore vitally important that people only go to A&E in the case of a genuine emergency; this allows those whose lives are most at risk to be seen as quickly as possible. People are seen in order of urgency, so if you arrive at A&E with an injury that does not require emergency treatment, you could be in for a long wait.”

“For injuries that are too serious for your GP but not life-threatening, we have seven Minor Injury Unit (MIU) across the county. MIUs offer a sit and wait service and can help with a number of different problems, such as cuts, sprains, broken bones and other serious but not life-threatening injuries. I’d recommend always calling ahead before your visit to check the opening hours. You can also visit for more information.

Please help us to help you stay safe and well over the holiday period by choosing well and getting the right advice from the right service.