NHS leaders in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are expecting the remainder of the festive period to be just as busy as the long Christmas weekend, if not more so.
People are being asked to once again show their support by doing whatever they can to help relieve the intense pressure being felt in the local NHS, as well as across the wider health and social care system.
All GP practices and pharmacies opened again from Wednesday 27 December, meaning anyone needing help for a persistent and non-urgent issue will be able to call their local surgery and arrange an appointment for a time in the coming days.
Those who have appointments are asked to attend or let their practice know if they need to cancel as soon as they can so the appointment can be made available to someone else.
People with less urgent conditions, including common winter ailments like colds, flu and norovirus, can, in most cases, be treated at home through rest and with over-the-counter medicines.
Help for other minor illnesses and injuries can be obtained by using NHS111 or by visiting a community pharmacy, many of which will be open on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Gill May, Chief Nurse, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “The support of our public at this exceptionally busy time of year never goes unnoticed, and we’d like to thank everybody who has helped us so far this festive period.
“But we are not out of the woods yet, as we are expecting demand for care over the next few days, as well as in the first week of January, when another period of industrial action is planned, to be incredibly high.
“Our teams will, of course, be working around the clock over the coming days, including when most families will be ringing in the new year, for those people most in need of care.
“By choosing the right healthcare option, and by continuing to celebrate the festive season sensibly, we can help to ensure that anybody who does need our care this new year can be treated quickly, safely and effectively.”
Families with a loved-one in hospital can play an enormous role in speeding up their relative’s journey home by providing lifts and collecting groceries and any necessary medicines.
Helping people to leave hospital when they are ready to do so not only supports the individual’s ongoing recovery, but also frees up valuable bed space, so that other patients, including those waiting in the emergency department, can be transferred to a ward in the quickest time possible.
A total of 17 pharmacies across the region will be open on Monday 1 January, with all other sites scheduled to reopen with usual opening hours from Tuesday 2 January. Details of which pharmacies are open and when across the festive period, along with other useful information on accessing services this winter, can be found online at https://bswtogether.org.uk/yourhealth/winter-services