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Now that many COVID-19 restrictions have lifted and we are out and about this summer, NHS services are extremely busy. You can help us help you this August bank holiday by making sure you ‘Choose Well’ and if you are injured or unwell, use the health service that best meets your needs.

Choose the right service

Dr Alex Murray, Clinical Director at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said “The NHS is here for everyone and we’re working hard to ensure we can help people when they need us – but to do this, we need everyone’s support. If you need medical advice or treatment and are not sure where to go – call NHS 111 first or go to www.111.nhs.uk for immediate advice, 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.”

“Please remember that our Emergency Departments (A&E) are for serious and life-threatening emergencies and injuries. There is a broad range of local healthcare services where you can access advice and treatment. For advice and care on most summer conditions including hay fever, heat exhaustion, insect bites and sunburn, as well as wider minor illnesses and injuries such as falls, you can visit your local community pharmacy and speak to a highly experienced pharmacist who can give you advice and recommend products and medication.”

Professor Trudi Grant, Somerset Director of public health, said: “The county’s hospital emergency departments are very busy at the moment and get busier on a bank holiday weekend. Unless you have a serious or life-threatening condition, we strongly recommend that you think ‘111 First’ by contacting 111.nhs.uk online or call 111 if you need medical help that is not an emergency.

“They will make an assessment of your needs and use it to refer you to the most appropriate service for you to get treatment this could be a community pharmacy, Minor Injury Unit, emergency dental services, or the emergency services – they can also send an ambulance if you are suffering from a serious or life-threatening condition”

GP surgeries will be closed as normal over the bank holiday weekend and bank holiday Monday and will reopen on Tuesday 31 August. However, while your GP is closed there are still other options available to you.

This might be your local community pharmacy. Pharmacists are experts in medicines and can help you and your family with minor health concerns. As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains. They can also advise you on what to keep in a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home.

You may find it is possible to treat your condition at home using the A to Z of health advice and information on the NHS website or the NHS app. This covers a wide range of conditions and includes information on symptoms, treatment and when/where to seek advice if the condition becomes more serious.

For children’s health advice you can also download the HANDi App, available for Android phones on Google Play or on the App store for iPhone and iPad.

Minor Injury Units can help with a wide range of conditions including broken bones, throat and chest infections, eye infections, urinary infections, emergency contraception, sprains and strains, as well as wounds and bites. Check opening hours and details of the Minor Injuries Unit open nearest to you.

For urgent, but not life-threatening, health advice and treatment 24 hours a day, contact NHS 111 first by going online at https://111.nhs.uk/ or calling 111. They will make sure you get help from the most appropriate service for your healthcare needs, reducing unnecessary or wasted journeys. They can also help if you have a dental emergency and your dentist is closed.

People should call 999 in a medical emergency when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk: When to call 999 – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Further information