An urgent plea has been issued to communities amid significant pressures on all NHS services in Hampshire and Isle of Wight.
Dedicated health and care teams continue to do all they can to ensure patients receive safe, high-quality care – but they need your help amid sustained pressures across the board. It comes as figures show:
- Almost every bed at hospitals across Hampshire and Isle of Wight is occupied by patients needing care
- Latest figures show were more than 38,000 urgent appointments or attendances with GP practices, urgent treatment centres, minor injuries units and emergency departments in the last week alone – an average of one every two seconds
- The actual number is likely to be far higher as most GP practices are experiencing three times their usual level of demand in relation to Group A strep
Help us help you
Make sure you are ready to treat common illnesses and injuries at home. Keep stocked up on essentials such as paracetamol, plasters, bandages and upset tummy remedies and order repeat prescriptions in good time so that you don't run out. The NHS website provides lots of advice on conditions, symptoms, treating illnesses and injuries as well as when to seek further support.
If you need urgent help but it is not a life-threatening emergency, please visit 111.nhs.uk. If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency you/they should attend a local Emergency Department or call 999.
Medical emergencies can include:
- loss of consciousness
- an acute confused state
- fits that are not stopping
- chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot 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.
You can also help by:
- Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and flu if you are eligible and have not yet taken up the offer. Visit www.nhs.uk/wintervaccination to find out more
- Continuing to practice good hand hygiene
- Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Supporting family members being discharged from hospital by helping with transport and ensuring they have suitable clothing to return home in
- Downloading the Healthier Together app for advice if you have children or carer responsibilities. The app can help you decide whether you can self-care at home or if you need help, which service is best for the needs of children aged up to 18. It also provides advice and guidance for pregnant women.
- Using online services where possible to request repeat prescriptions, follow up on results, request a fit to work certificate, or general queries
- Using NHS 111 online to symptom check whether you need further advice or can self-care at home safely
- The NHS website has information on signs and symptoms of conditions including Strep A, what to look out for and what to do in an emergency
More information on which service to use and when is available here. This includes mental health care and dentistry as well as urgent treatment centres.
Winter is always challenging for health and care services, and recent pressures have been compounded by the sudden cold snap and understandable concerns following an increase in reported cases of Group A strep among children and young people. With rising numbers of people seeking support and soaring attendances across all local health services, it is vital that more is done to help teams who are doing their very best for all those who need care.
Dr Derek Sandeman, Chief Medical Officer at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said: “Winter is always a challenging time of year for our population and also the NHS. You will have heard on the news that this winter feels the most difficult the NHS has faced and that is the experience of colleagues working in our system. I want to publicly thank them for stepping up to try and meet the demands which at times have felt overwhelming. I also know that this can make it hard for you to find the care you need and are being asked to wait longer than any of us would like. I’m sorry for the added frustration this is causing.
“Unfortunately, due to the current situation we may need to postpone some appointments to meet this urgent and emergency demand. We need to ask for your help in being understanding of this as well as using sites such as Healthier Together, which provides advice and guidance for pregnant women, parents and guardians of children and young people aged up to 18 and NHS.uk to get advice on common conditions that don’t necessarily require clinical support.”
Due to such high levels of requests for appointments or access, some services may be offering care differently to ensure those most in need are able to be seen quickly. This means that:
- People may be redirected to a more appropriate service for their needs
- Colleagues continue to prioritise patients according to clinical need, which means that some people requesting or calling for non-urgent queries or waiting for a routine appointment may currently experience longer waits than we would like
Pharmacies are also busy with the build-up to Christmas and people requesting prescriptions and other medication before going away and are doing all they can for patients.
Dr Tim Cooper, GP Partner and Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Primary and Local Care at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said: “Health and care teams are doing all they can to respond to general winter pressures, alongside a rise in attendances and contacts with health services due to high levels of strep A infection. Within general practice this means that some routine appointments may be postponed to help clinicians treat patients who need to be seen urgently, but we will do our best to minimise disruption. Colleagues continue working hard to support our patients, so please be patient with us as we try to find the best possible way to help you. As always, if your need is urgent, please get in touch.”