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Health and care services in Somerset are open and here to help you.

If you or someone you love or care for has health concerns please do not put off seeking help or attending an appointment.

How healthcare services may be different

The pandemic and the need for social distancing have changed our services and how we run them but we are here to help, support and care for you. As a result of vital social distancing measures we have less space available to us and fewer hospital beds and therefore we are conducting more telephone and digital appointments where it is safe to do so and have also expanded the services that we provide in the community and in patients’ own homes. We are very aware of the effect that the pandemic is having on people’s mental health and we have therefore also expanded the mental health support that is available in Somerset.

We have put in place new and important measures to keep everyone as safe as possible when you access care. What these measures are will depend on which service you are accessing. For GP appointments this may include having a telephone or online appointment where appropriate or being asked to attend a different location from your usual GP surgery for a face-to-face appointment. If you are asked to come to an appointment at a different location, it will be as close to your home as possible because we know travel is difficult when you are unwell.

For other services it may also include having a telephone or online appointment, having your temperature checked before entering a building or being asked to isolate for a short period before an operation. Clear information about the new measures will be provided before any appointment. Please be assured that whatever the service – whether it is provided in a GP surgery, your local hospital, a minor injury unit or in your own home – your safety, and that of our colleagues, is our top priority. If you have any questions about the measures we are taking please speak to the service and do not delay your appointment unless absolutely necessary. If you can’t attend your appointment please let the service know so that they can offer it to someone else who needs it.

If you have a loved one, friend or neighbour in hospital, we ask for your continued patience and understanding. During the lockdown our hospitals have arrangements in place to ensure essential visiting can continue but restrictions for other visits may be in place to protect you, patients, and our staff. You can find details of current visiting policies on our hospital websites Somerset Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital.

We have taken the opportunity to rapidly improve some services particularly in maternity and mental health. We have:

  • Set up small teams of midwives in community hubs to care for pregnant women more locally and give them continuity of carer
  • Established 11 step up / step down mental health beds (four in Wells and seven in Yeovil) to give service users more independence while still receiving a high level of mental health care.
  • Expanded mental health support teams into schools
  • Launched Open Mental Health, an alliance of local voluntary organisations and the NHS in Somerset to support people to live a full life by enabling access to specialist mental health support, debt and employment advice, volunteering opportunities, community activities and exercise.

Waiting for your hospital care

We know that the current pandemic has had a big impact on everyone, including the NHS, and we are trying to resume routine services and keep patients safe, at the same time as we continue to treat people with Covid-19. We would like to assure you that we are reviewing all patients who are waiting for a routine operation or procedure, to understand their current position and treatment wishes, and to help us prioritise those in most urgent need. If you are waiting for a routine operation or procedure, we are doing our utmost to ensure you get the treatment you require as soon as possible.

Waiting times

Everyone in Somerset who is waiting for a routine operation or treatment is being prioritised according to their clinical need. The most urgent cases will be seen in line with the clinical prioritisation. However due to the nature of the current situation, we can’t be certain how long people will have to wait for non-urgent operations. For routine care many patients may have to wait longer than 12 months, particularly if they require a procedure.

Support

All NHS organisations have a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) which is there to provide support and advice for patients. The PALS service for the hospitals in our area are as follows:

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (including Musgrove Park Hospital)

Email: PALS.Acute@SomersetFT.nhs.uk

Telephone: 01823 343536

Write to: Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS), Block 51, Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, Somerset TA1 5DA

Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Email: pals@ydh.nhs.uk 

Telephone: 01935 384706

Write to: PALS team, Level 3, Yeovil District Hospital, Higher Kingston, Somerset BA21 4AT.

Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group

Email: somccg.pals@nhs.net

Telephone: 08000 851067

Write to: NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, Freepost RRKL-XKSC-ACSG, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 8HR

What to do if your symptoms get worse

If your symptoms get worse while you are waiting for your operation or procedure you should contact your GP or NHS 111 for advice.

Useful information while waiting

There is a range of guidance to help you manage your condition and your wellbeing while waiting for a routine operation or treatment.

These resources from The Royal College of Anaesthetists’ will provide you with the information you need to become fitter and better prepared for your operation.

Advice, guidance and exercises from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to help you manage your pain.

These frequently asked questions may address some of your concerns about going to hospital during the pandemic and how you can prepare.

How to access support, local therapies and online services to help you to look after your mental health.

Anyone with concerns around mental health issues and emotional wellbeing can be supported by calling Somerset Mindline on 01823 276 892. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Try these 5 steps to help improve your mental health, feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.

Reducing or stopping smoking will make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing. Why not try our FREE stop smoking service for Somerset residents.

Maintaining a healthy weight can bring a positive lifestyle; increasing confidence, health and happiness. If you weigh too much or too little it can be bad for your health. It can even cause serious conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your weight to make sure you stay within a healthy range.

  • Practical support

There is a huge amount of support available in Somerset. You can call The Coronavirus Helpline on 0300 790 6275 for help with food, prescriptions, housing, financial support, emotional support, employment, transport, waste and more. It is open 8am to 6pm, seven days a week, including over Christmas and New Year.

The CCS Village Agents can provide confidential, practical community-based solutions for food and other support. Visit somersetagents.org

You can also volunteer or request help with the likes of grocery shopping, collecting medication, combatting loneliness or walking the dog by visiting corona-helpers.co.uk