Public urged to play their part in supporting their local hospitals this Christmas by making the right choices

People in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire (BSW) are urged to play their part in supporting their extremely pressured hospitals in the region during what is expected to be a phenomenally busy Christmas period.

  • Hospital leaders have said local people can help to reduce pressure on services in three specific ways:
  • Helping loved ones who are well enough to leave hospital, to recover at home or in another suitable care setting, so that beds are available for those who need to be cared for in hospital.
  • Visiting for healthcare advice when it is not an emergency, to ensure you use the most appropriate service for your needs and so that those who really need to be in A&E can be seen as quickly as possible.

Calling 999 only when it is a genuine life-threatening emergency, so that ambulances are able to respond quickly to those who require emergency care.Dr Bernie Marden, Medical Director at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust said:

“As we prepare for the impact of Omicron, we are appealing to our local communities to support us by helping to make sure the only people in our hospitals are those who really need to be there.

“People can help to make a difference by promptly collecting and supporting loved ones who are well enough to leave hospital and continue their recovery at home. The quicker we can get someone home, the quicker we can give the bed to another person who really needs it now.”
With Christmas just a few days away, hospital leaders are also reminding people of other ways in which they can help to reduce the pressure on the NHS – including using the most appropriate service for their needs, only calling 999 or visiting A&E in a genuine life-threatening emergency, such as a heart attack, suspected stroke or experience of breathing difficulties, and by getting fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
They have also asked that anyone visiting a hospital or attending an appointment over the coming days takes a Lateral flow test before doing so. Adrian South, Deputy Director of Clinical Care, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “The ambulance service remains under enormous pressure and we expect to be even busier throughout the festive period and New Year period. “We will always be there for those who need us, but we need everyone’s help to ensure we can reach and treat those with the most life-threatening injuries and illnesses first.
“Always call 999 if someone is in a life-threatening situation. These include a suspected heart attack or stroke, unconsciousness or uncontrollable severe bleeding. In all other less serious situations we would recommend using the online NHS 111 service or calling 111. GPs with remote consultation, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres are also excellent local resources.’’
Felicity Taylor-Drewe, Chief Operating Officer at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:
 “Please bear in mind that people should really only go to our Emergency Departments in the case of a genuine emergency.
“By choosing the right health service for your needs, you will not only be support those who genuinely need emergency care – but also our fantastic, hard-working staff during this challenging time.
“The NHS 111 online service is able to give advice, including to those who think that they might need to visit a minor injury unit to treat issues such as broken bones and burns, while pharmacists can help with minor complaints including coughs, colds, ear ache and rashes.
“People can help themselves now – by stocking up medicine cupboards to enable them to care for minor illnesses themselves, and ensuring they get their prescriptions in advance.”
The call comes at what is always an extremely busy period and hospitals across BSW prepare for the impact of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 at the same time as coping with Covid-related staff shortages.