Emergency department consultants are working extra shifts to cope with an increase in people coming to hospital for help. Extra doctors and nurses are also being brought in to meet demand.
Our emergency departments in Truro and Plymouth are starting to get really busy again with an influx of people wanting treatment for minor conditions like broken bones, cuts and stings. Many of these conditions could be treated by a GP, a pharmacist, by a nurse at one of our minor injury units, or using over-the-counter remedies.
Our two acute hospitals at Treliske and Derriford in Plymouth have been operating at high level (OPEL 3) for a number of days. As we gear up for the weekend, we are asking everyone to help the NHS by using the right service so we can keep the emergency department free for people who have a genuine life-threatening emergency.
With the public’s support, we’ve done an amazing job of improving our system’s performance and we were recently the best in the country for the greatest number of people being treated in the emergency department within the national four hour standard.
Our staff in health and social care continue to work above and beyond to make sure people get the care they need, as quickly as possible. We did such a good job that staff from Derriford spoke at a national conference about how we had made these improvements.
We want to get back to providing this gold standard of care: treating people in the right place and getting them home as quickly as possible with support, if necessary, but we need the public to help us by only using the emergency department if they have a life-threatening condition.
Here are some of the things you can do to help support us if you live, work, or are on holiday in Cornwall, to make sure you get treated as quickly as possible. Thank you for your help!
You should always call your GP first if you have an illness that won’t go away and isn’t life-threatening. Many GP surgeries offer extended opening hours, from 8am to 6.30pm, and others offer early morning or evening appointments, and pre-bookable appointments for Saturday mornings.
Please only use the emergency department if you have a genuine life-threatening emergency. This includes loss of consciousness; persistent, severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding that cannot be stopped; severe allergic reactions; severe burns or scalds and acute confused state and fits that don’t stop.
The emergency department is not the right place to treat sporting sprains and strains, minor fractures, broken bones, upset stomachs, insect bites and cuts, nor is it an alternative to a GP appointment. If your GP practice is closed you can call NHS 111, which will direct you to the best local service to treat your injury.
The West Cornwall Hospital Urgent Care Centre in Penzance is open 24-hours, seven days a week, and the Primary Care Centre at Camborne Redruth Community Hospital is open from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week. Doctors and nurses at both hospitals can treat more serious conditions including cuts, burns and broken bones.
Please only call the 999 ambulance service for life threatening and emergency conditions. If a family member is experiencing chest pain or has become unconscious telephone 999 immediately.
Minor injury units:
If your injury is less severe, you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU) or the West Cornwall Hospital urgent care centre in Penzance. 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
Cumberland Centre, Plymouth
Tavistock Hospital, Tavistock
In addition, the Stennack Surgery in St Ives also offers evening and weekend appointments during the summer to meet demands from tourists in that area.
Visit www.kernowccg.nhs.uk/choosewell for MIU opening times and contact details. Add this link to your favourites in your mobile phone so the information is always close to hand.
If you do need to visit the emergency department, a minor injury unit or urgent care centre, 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. Visit: www.royalcornwall.nhs.uk/services/emergency-department/minor-injury-wait-times for waiting times in Cornwall and for Devon, please visit https://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/urgent-waiting-times
Pharmacists are highly trained clinicians who can provide confidential expert advice and over-the-counter treatments for a wide range of common illnesses and complaints, such as stomach upsets, allergies, insect bites, minor cuts, sticky and red 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 the emergency department.
The emergency prescription service is also available for anyone who’s on holiday or visiting family. You can also get details of which pharmacies are open at the weekend and evenings at www.kernowccg.nhs.uk or checking the NHS England website.
Please call NHS 111 if you need urgent medical advice when your GP surgery is closed, or you’re on holiday. Call handlers can tell you anything from where to find an emergency dentist to getting you and out-of-hour’s doctor. They can also arrange for a clinician to call you back, if needed.
Having a few basic items in your bathroom medicine cabinet can save you time and effort should 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, call 111 if your surgery is closed, or talk to a pharmacist.
Not registered with a GP or on holiday in Cornwall?
If you are not registered with a local GP practice, you should do so as soon as possible to ensure that you can receive medical treatment when you need it. Don’t wait until you are ill.
It will mean that the GP has access to your medical records and will be able to make more informed decisions about how to treat you. You will need to be registered with a GP to get ongoing care, such as referral to hospital or access to other services in the practice.
If you are on holiday in Cornwall, please call NHS 111 if you need to see a GP.