Public urged to act sensibly this bank holiday weekend and do their bit to support busy NHS services

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People across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being urged to enjoy the first bank holiday weekend out of lockdown sensibly, with leading doctors issuing a reminder that local health and care services remain extremely busy.

With pubs and restaurants reopened, and families and friends now able to socialise indoors, senior doctors are asking those who intend to celebrate the long weekend to do so in a responsible way.

Demand for emergency and urgent care, as well as GP services, across the region continues to be high, and it is feared a rise in avoidable attendances, potentially linked to excessive alcohol consumption or risky behaviour, could prevent those most in need from being seen in a timely manner.

Dr Ruth Grabham, Medical Director, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG, said: “We know that a night out never begins with the intention of ending up in hospital, but we also know how quickly things can escalate once a person has drunk more than he or she can manage. 

“Our hospitals and urgent treatment centres are extremely busy, with teams having to work flat-out to ensure those most in need are given the care they need.

“Every person can do their bit in supporting their NHS at this current time, be it choosing the right health or care option when looking for help, enjoying themselves in a sensible way when socialising with others or simply adhering to the latest coronavirus guidance.”

People in need of non-emergency healthcare over the weekend should use NHS 111 before visiting a hospital or urgent treatment centre, or before calling a GP practice.

The 111 service can provide quick and timely advice, as well as provide a route into other services, over the phone or online.

People can access NHS 111 for free by calling 111 from any mobile phone or landline, or by visiting 111.nhs.uk on any laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Community pharmacies, many of which will be open on Monday 31 May, can also be an effective option when seeking help for minor injuries and illness, as trained pharmacists can offer advice on treatment, while also recommending effective over-the-counter medicines. 

Dr Charlotte Forsyth, Medical Director, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Bank holidays are often very busy times for our Trust, particularly for our urgent and emergency services where we are currently seeing a high volume of patients.

“This, in addition to reduced spaces in our waiting rooms and clinical areas due to social distancing guidelines, means that our services are more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed.

“We are therefore asking local people to consider seeking alternative forms of treatment where possible, such as NHS 111 or their local pharmacy which could save you from coming to hospital or calling one of our many GP practices which, like the hospital, are also incredibly busy right now.

“However, please be assured that our doors are always open to anyone in need of emergency treatment.”

Any person suffering from a potentially life-threatening illness or injury, such as severe bleeding, loss of consciousness or major head injuries, should not hesitate in calling 999 or attending the nearest hospital emergency department.

Full details of all local health and care services, including opening times for local pharmacies, can be found online at www.nhs.uk