DOCTORS from across Somerset are urging residents to consider the alternatives to A and E for urgent medical treatment and issued advice as flu season approaches.

The NHS in Somerset is urging people to consider alternatives such as pharmacies, minor injury units, and even self-care, instead of telephoning 999 for an ambulance or visiting busy hospital Accident and Emergency departments.

The advice comes as hospitals, such as Yeovil District Hospital, experience exceptionally high demand which hinders medical professionals from treating very serious cases, and causes avoidable inconvenience to patients waiting for long periods of time to be seen, many of whom could get treatment elsewhere.

Doctors are advising people with flu-like symptoms to rest, drink plenty of water and take paracetamol where needed but they are reminding people, particularly the elderly, to seek medical advice before they become more seriously ill.

There are more convenient health services available for public to use if they have only minor illness, injury or ailments. These include:

Minor Injury Units

Somerset residents who have urgent need for medical treatment can visit one of the seven Minor Injury Units at community hospitals in Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Frome, Minehead, Shepton Mallet and West Mendip Hospital.

Details of the Minor Injury Units’ opening hours are available by visiting the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust website:

See your local pharmacist:

If you are feeling unwell and need advice visit your pharmacy. You don’t need an appointment and they can advise on the best medicines for many common illnesses. You can find your nearest pharmacist by searching online at:

Contact your GP practice

If you need to see a GP or member of your GP practice you can book an urgent on-the day appointment by telephoning your practice. GP practices in Somerset now offer extended access to pre-booked routine appointments up until 8.00pm in the evening and at weekends. Ask your GP receptionist for details. After your GP surgery has closed and you need urgent advice or medical help, you can ring your surgery’s phone number for recorded message directing you on the best course of action.

Telephone NHS 111:

For non-life-threatening emergencies where urgent treatment or advice is needed, people should telephone NHS 111. The service is free to call from mobiles and landlines and is available 24 hours a day