Ditch the bank holiday emergency department jam

People are being asked to choose the right services and look out for elderly family and friends in a bid to prevent a repeat of the summer surge on the emergency department caused by the July heatwave.

Although the Met Office says that temperatures are unlikely to reach the same levels as last month, NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group wants you, your family and anyone planning a bank holiday break away to know that there are lots of different ways that you can get advice, support and treatments from the NHS.

Dr Iain Chorlton, NHS Kernow chairman, said: “July’s heatwave did bring an unprecedented summer surge on services. Since last month not only have we seen, heard and read about people flocking to the county in their droves and the overcrowding but also that our hospital, along with hospitals across the country have seen a record number of people coming through the emergency departments in July with respiratory problems, dehydration and other illnesses associated with the hot weather –especially older people who were already frail.

“I’d like to personally thank our dedicated staff who truly worked above and beyond to cope with not only with the demand of people in the emergency department but also getting them to the hospital, often facing gridlocked roads.

Dr Chorlton has gone onto explain that just because the mercury isn’t soaring it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take steps to take care of ourselves – and look in on elderly or vulnerable family, friends and/or neighbours.

“We’d always like to encourage people to keep themselves topped up with fluids, whatever the weather – dehydration can creep up without you knowing, even on the cloudiest of days.

“Of course with the bank holiday this weekend, there will no doubt be an influx of people so we’re asking people to get prepared and if they need medical help or advice to use the right services so that clinicians can focus on treating people that really need help.

“While some of the most popular beaches and beauty spots might be jammed packed with people just like our emergency department we have NHS services that are, like our more less well-known spots, are not rammed and very much open for business such our minor injury unit / urgent care centre, which are open all weekend, with Camborne Redruth open from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week, and West Cornwall Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre open 24 hours. You can get treatment for broken and fractured bones; burns; stings and scalds.”

Here are some treatment options if you or a family member becomes ill during the bank holiday:

Self-care

Having a few basic items in your medicine cabinet can save you time and effort if you become ill. Items like paracetamol, a bandage, sticking plasters, and antiseptic cream or indigestion tablets. If troublesome symptoms persist or worsen see your GP or call 111 when your GP surgery is closed.

Visit your pharmacist

You can speak to your pharmacist for confidential expert advice and over-the-counter treatments for a range of common illnesses and complaints, such as stomach upsets, allergies, minor cuts, sticky eyes, nappy rash, skin conditions and coughs and colds. They can also arrange an urgent prescription for a supply of any prescribed medicines that run out, so you don’t have to use the out of hours’ service or visit the emergency department.
This service is also available for anyone who’s on holiday or visiting family. You can also get details of which pharmacies are open during the bank holiday weekend, including evenings and Sunday by visiting www.kernowccg.nhs.uk or checking the NHS England website.

NHS 111

Free health advice 24 hours a day: Call 111 if you need medical advice when your GP surgery is closed and your condition isn’t life threatening. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is free to call from landlines and mobile phones. It includes a full range of health services, including doctors, community nurses, emergency dental care and late opening chemists.

Minor injury unit / Urgent care centre

If your injury is not serious you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU) or the West Cornwall Hospital urgent care centre, which are open all weekend, with Camborne Redruth open from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week, and West Cornwall Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre open 24 hours. You can get treatment for broken and fractured bones; burns; stings and scalds. You will be seen by an experienced nurse, without an appointment. X-ray is available at some locations.

Minor injury units are based at

  • Bodmin Community Hospital
  • Camborne Redruth Community Hospital
  • Falmouth Community Hospital
  • Launceston Community Hospital
  • Liskeard Community Hospital
  • Newquay Community Hospital
  • St Austell Community Hospital
  • St Mary’s Community Hospital
  • Stratton Community Hospital, Bude
  • St Michael’s Hospital, Hayle
  • West Cornwall Hospital, Penzance

Find your nearest centre.

Emergency

Only use the emergency department or the 999 ambulance service for life threatening and emergency conditions. Call 999 if you have chest pain or become unconscious.

If you do need to visit the emergency department, a minor injury unit or urgent care centre during the holiday, you can see how long you may have to wait by using the online waiting time service, which shows the longest wait, how many people are waiting to be seen and how many people are in the department. It also includes opening times and x-ray availability. 

Choose Well

Click here for details of all services, opening and waiting times, including for the east of the county, and contact details are available by visiting www.kernowccg.nhs.uk/choosewell.