Health services in Devon are currently extremely busy, with the high Covid rates impacting on staffing and high temperatures in recent days leading more people to seek medical help.
At the end of last week there were six times as many people in Devon’s hospitals with Covid-19 than the beginning of June; over 300 patients. More than 1000 hospital staff were absent due to Covid-19; four times the number in early June. Community Covid-19 rates are less accurate, due to reduced testing, but have seen similar increases.
People are being asked to do their bit to help reduce pressure on services. This includes picking family and friends up when they’re ready to be discharged from hospital, choosing the best service to meet your needs if you are unwell or injured, wearing a mask if you have a health appointment or a visiting a loved one in hospital and staying at home if you have Covid or symptoms of any infectious disease.
Dr Nigel Acheson, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Devon said: “We’re here if you need us, but we ask that you support us by helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and using the most appropriate service for your health needs. We also thank people for their patience at such a busy time; health staff are doing all they can to ensure people are seen as quickly as possible.
“If you have a friend or family member who is in hospital, we also ask that you collect them as soon as possible when they are ready to be discharged. This makes the bed available for others who are unwell and reduces pressure on our busy emergency departments.”
If you have any urgent medical needs NHS 111 is on hand 24 hours a day online or by calling 111, leaving emergency departments for life threatening emergencies.
Anyone contacting 111 who needs emergency medical care from a hospital Emergency Department will be given direct access to the department. Staff at NHS111 can also refer patients through to Minor Injuries Units and Urgent Treatment Centres. This will ensure that people get to the right place for treatment and reduce their waiting times.
You can also avoid a long wait in an emergency department by treating minor conditions at home. Pharmacists can offer advice on sunburn, insect bites and stings and will have creams, paracetamol and anti-histamines that can ease discomfort.
If someone is showing signs of minor heat exhaustion (headache, dizziness, nausea) NHS advice is to get them to lie down in a cool place, give them plenty of water to drink and help to cool their skin with a sponge or spray.
Prevention is, of course, better than cure and people can reduce their likelihood of sunburn by; applying cream, avoiding being out in the sun between 11 and 3, covering up and wearing a hat and of being stung by; wearing shoes, covering exposed skin, applying insect repellent and avoiding strongly perfumed cosmetics.
People who are visiting Devon and have a medical problem or need a prescription, your GP back home can help. They will be able to offer an appointment by telephone or online and can arrange a prescription, leaving you more time to enjoy the beautiful scenery we have here in Devon.
Meanwhile it is not too late for people to have any Covid-19 vaccinations they are eligible for. Appointments can be booked online or by calling 119 and walk in clinics are published on the NHS website.
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