Urgent and Emergency Care
We commission a range of services that the public can use to help access care in an urgent and emergency care crisis, ranging from telephone triaging via 111 to two full Accident and Emergency Departments. All of the services whilst commissioned independently are designed to be an integrated system providing same-day urgent care services for the population of Somerset.
In Somerset we actively encourage the “talk before you walk” approach to ensure that patients are seen in the most appropriate locations and seen in the most timely manner. Our NHS 111 service is a 24-hour telephone helpline which the public can call for health advice or to identify options for treatment. People are advised to call 111 if they become ill after their GP surgery has closed and need urgent medical advice or support. The telephone helpline is supported by 111 online which is a fast and convenient alternative to the 111 phone service and provides an option for people who want to access 111 digitally, they can:
- Get advice on self-care
- Have a call back from a nurse, doctor or another trained health professional if you need it
- Find out how to get the right healthcare in their area, including whether they need to see a GP or seek urgent care
- Out of hours you can either visit or be visited by a GP depending upon your circumstances and your condition.
Your local pharmacy can be the best first port of call for the vast majority of common health concerns, including minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, eye infections and tummy aches. Community pharmacists are highly qualified health care professionals, who can provide urgent clinical advice and help you to stay well. They work with other professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to give you the best possible care as part of the local NHS team. By choosing to use your pharmacy first for minor illness, you could be seeing the right professional, at a convenient time and place.
NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS)
The NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) was launched in October 2019, to progress the integration of community pharmacy into local NHS urgent care services, providing more convenient treatment closer to patients’ homes. The CPCS offers patients the option of having a face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist following an initial assessment by an NHS 111 call handler. The call handler can make a digital referral to a convenient pharmacy, where the patient can attend to receive advice and treatment for a range of minor illnesses or for an urgent supply of a previously prescribed medicine. Should the patient need to be escalated or referred to an alternative service, the pharmacist can arrange this.
Our 999 and Ambulance Services are provided by South West Ambulance Service and it’s advised that 999 is dialled in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, medical emergencies can include:
- Loss of consciousness
- An acute confused state
- Fits that aren’t stopping
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Severe bleeding that can’t be stopped
- Severe allergic reactions
- Severe burns or scalds.
Also call 999 if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as after a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.
Minor Injuries Units
Due to the geography that Somerset covers our A+E departments are supported by 7 Minor Injury Units (MIU, these are located at Frome, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Chard, Bridgwater, Minehead and Burnham on Sea.
They are all run by Emergency Nurse Practitioners, these are nurses with extra training in emergency care and are supported by staff nurses and health care assistant. Our team of Emergency Nurse Practitioners see, assess, diagnose and treat a wide range of non-life threatening minor illnesses and injuries. Common examples include:
- Chest infections
- Throat infections
- Eye infections
- Urinary infections
- Emergency contraception
- Sprains and strains
- Broken bones
The standard opening times for the MIUs in Somerset are as follows, however may vary, so please see the Somerset Foundation Trust Website for up to date information.
- Bridgwater – Bridgwater Community Hospital, 01278 436 720 – open seven days a week, 8am – 9pm
- Burnham on Sea – Burnham on Sea War Memorial Hospital, 01278 773122 – open seven days a week, 10am – 6pm
- Chard – Chard Community Hospital, 01460 238229 – open seven days a week 8am – 9pm
- Frome – Frome Community Hospital, 01373 454770 – open seven days a week 8am – 9pm
- Glastonbury – West Mendip Community Hospital, 01458 836454 – open seven days a week 8am – 9pm
- Minehead – Minehead Community Hospital, 01643 701715 – open seven days a week 24 hours a day
- Shepton Mallet – Shepton Mallet Community Hospital, 01749 341101 – open seven days a week 8am – 9pm
Accident and Emergency Departments
There are two A+E departments in Somerset, one in Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and one in Yeovil District Hospital, their websites are listed below:
Our Emergency Departments are both open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone seeking treatment for an urgent problem caused by an accident or illness. You should be aware that our Emergency Department can be very busy.
Examples of conditions appropriate for treatment in an Emergency Department are:
- Chest pain
- Sudden onset weakness or speech difficulties
- Major trauma such as road traffic accidents
- Severe or sudden onset shortness of breath
- Unconsciousness / reduced consciousness
- Severe abdominal pain or injuries
- Recent minor injuries
People who use emergency services for minor problems may prevent others with emergencies from getting immediate care. If you attend an Emergency Department/A&E and your condition is not an emergency, you may be advised to contact your own family doctor or GP. There is guidance on when it is appropriate to visit an A and E department and this can be found here.
GP urgent care slots
GPs are required to provide a number of Urgent Care slots that can be booked either on the day directly via GP surgeries, or something that will be new for 2020 is that we will start to offer the option to book urgent care slots through the 111 telephone system. This has yet to be rolled out, but the aim is that by the end of the year this would be in place.
Technology and the future
We are investigating new technology that is on offer to improve your access to our services and are currently reviewing the possibilities that are available. This includes the option of apps to allow the public to see waiting times at A+E and MIU services, and also a public view of all the services that are commissioned by the CCG.