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South West clinicians urge Westcountry residents to make the right call during the festive season

Last updated: 26/12/2021

This festive season, clinicians in the South West are asking people to “make the right call” by choosing the most appropriate service for their health needs.

As the number of Omicron cases continue to rise and hospitals in the region deal with the combined pressures of COVID-19 and the increase in demand we see at this time of year, South West clinicians are asking people to think twice before calling 999 or visiting A&E.

The clinicians are being backed by a local radio campaign across the South West from mid-December to mid-January, with a series of six advertisements encouraging people to make the right call this winter

Last month was the second busiest November on record for A&E in England with more than two million patients seen at emergency departments and urgent treatment centres. That was up by half a million on the same time last year.

Dr Jenny Jones, Emergency Department Consultant at the Bristol Royal Infirmary said:

“Before you call 999 or visit an A and E department in the South West this winter, think: is it an emergency or is there another option? Please make the right call.”

To get the right treatment people can contact NHS 111, either on the phone or online. NHS 111 online can direct patients to urgent treatment centres and walk-in clinics, GP surgeries, pharmacies and emergency dental services and, if needed, a call from a healthcare professional.

Kevin Johnson, Regional Head of Urgent and Emergency Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement South West said:

“As we head into the festive period, we are working with partners in social care to get as many patients who are fit to do so home for Christmas, which is right for them and their families as well as freeing up beds.

“People can play their part in helping us by using the most appropriate service for their health concern and remembering that A&E is for life-threatening conditions only.”

Your local chemist can also help with minor illnesses. Ade Williams, a community pharmacist said:

“If you’re staying at home in the South West this festive period, you can take steps to look after yourself by planning ahead. Make sure you have any prescription medication you need, and a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

Before you call 999 or head to A&E, remember, your local pharmacist can help with illness, such as colds, urinary infections and stomach upsets.”

“You can also visit a local pharmacy for your life-saving COVID-19 booster jab.”

UK Health Security Agency data shows that two doses of a COVID vaccine are not enough to stop people becoming unwell from Omicron, but a third booster prevents around 75% of people from getting any COVID symptoms.

NHS staff are being redeployed so that they can focus on protecting the entire country as quickly as possible and military aid will be in place in every region across the country to support NHS staff with planning for the extra vaccinations.

All eligible people aged 18 and over can now use the National Booking Service to make an appointment to get their jab at one of the thousands of centres across the country.