HEALTH bosses and council leaders are urging people to help the NHS by supporting people to leave hospital when they are well enough.

The NHS is reassuring residents it is OK to take relatives home from hospital this festive season and have provided guidance on how to do so safely.

Matthew Bryant, chief operating officer (hospital services) for Yeovil District Hospital and Taunton-based Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are asking families and other carers to help people get home for Christmas.

"We are preparing our NHS services for the prospect of a wave of Covid admissions.

“If you can help provide some care for loved ones, it will help us have capacity for those people who are acutely unwell.

"Very often simple arrangements of arranging regular visits and some help with meals mean that someone can go home more quickly.

“Please talk with those involved in planning the discharge arrangements for your loved one.

"You can also get advice on getting support from the voluntary sector and be signposted towards this via Somerset County Council by calling 0300 123 2224.

“You can also help make these arrangements safe by making sure you’ve had your booster vaccination, taking regular lateral flow tests and limiting social contact as far as you can.”

Mel Lock, County Hall director and lead commissioner for adults and health, said: “Christmas can be a time of anxiety and pressure and the emergence of Omicron will have done nothing to diminish general levels of unease.

“However, for many older residents currently in hospital, being back with the family would be the best gift this Christmas.

"Even if someone is fit and well enough to be able to leave hospital, we understand that families might still be concerned about bringing loved ones home.

"However, a few simple precautions can make it much safer for them to be back in the care of family this Christmas, freeing up NHS services for others in need.”

She said the vaccination remains the best form of protection against coronavirus, and a booster jab has a positive effect on our immune systems.

Anyone who is eligible should book their vaccine or booster via the National Booking Service.