NHS invests millions in services in run-up to most 'challenging' winter in years

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 November 2018

Health leaders are asking patients to help ease strain on services. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Health leaders are asking patients to help ease strain on services. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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The NHS will enhance its services in the South West as it gears-up for the most 'challenging' winter in years.

With flu season just around the corner and A&E admissions at an all-time high, the NHS has invested more than £4million into community healthcare in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

However, North Somerset health leaders have urged patients to help them tackle demand by identifying the correct services and helping family members to return home quickly from hospital.

Dr Lesley Ward, GP and the clinical commissioning group’s lead for urgent care, says delays to patients being discharged are one of the main challenges faced by hospitals in the winter months.

She said: “Winter is always a difficult time for health and care services but this year is already looking especially challenging.

“The best way we can meet this demand is by working together as a health and care system to help people stay out of hospital as much as possible.

“Helping loved ones get home from hospital sooner is good for our hospitals, but it is also really important for patients as unnecessary extended stays can seriously affect older adults’ wellbeing and ability to cope when they return home.

“If you have a loved one in hospital, speak to the ward staff about their discharge plans and ask what you can do to help their return home.

“In many cases this could be as simple as getting some shopping in and turning the heating on.”

Dr Ward added that acting early to identify illnesses by calling 111 for advice rather than going straight to A&E and taking flu vaccinations if you are offered one, will help to relieve strain on NHS services.

She said: “Don’t wait. By acting early on minor ailments, you could prevent more serious complications leading to a possible hospital admission.

“And, if you’re in one of the at-risk groups or over 65, a flu vaccination is one of the most effective ways to avoid flu and the secondary complications that can lead to an emergency hospital admission.

“We’re making good progress with this, thanks to the commitment and dedication of our staff, but we also need local people to play their part, which is why we’re making this call to ‘help us help you’ this winter.”

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