Local NHS issues urgent plea to the public as services experience extreme pressures 

<strong>Local NHS issues urgent plea to the public as services experience extreme pressures </strong> image

Home » Local NHS issues urgent plea to the public as services experience extreme pressures 

Local NHS leaders are urging patients to use the right NHS service for their condition as health services across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes experience their busiest period in history. 

The public are being asked to use 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency. 

Milton Keynes University Hospital, Bedford Hospital and Luton & Dunstable University Hospital and ambulance services are currently experiencing an extreme level of pressure and are being stretched by the unprecedented number of people using them.  

The NHS is already facing record demand on urgent and emergency care services – October and November were the busiest on record for A&E attendances and the most serious ambulance callouts. Meanwhile, calls to 999 are up 50% compared to the same period last year and calls to NHS 111 are up 75%.  

Dr Sarah Whiteman, Chief Medical Director of NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB), said: “Our local emergency departments are under extreme pressure, with higher numbers of patients seeking urgent care.  

“We are asking that local people only attend accident and emergency departments if they have serious, life-threatening or dangerous conditions. For other healthcare needs, people can use 111 online, call 111, contact their GP surgery or visit their local pharmacy. 

“By using health services appropriately, we can make sure that those with the most clinically urgent health needs can be treated.” 

Patients should continue to call 999 if anyone requires life-saving care, with ambulance services prioritising the most clinically urgent cases. If it is not life-threatening you may have to wait longer than usual for an ambulance. 

Felicity Cox, Chief Executive of BLMK ICB, said: “We are seeing increasing numbers of patients attending hospital with both COVID-19 and influenza which highlights the real need for those who are eligible to boost their immunity this winter and have their seasonal influenza and COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves, their families and carers. 

“The public can also play their part by taking simple steps to look after themselves and their loved ones, and by checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours.  

“Taking sensible measures to keep yourselves and others safe during this period, such as by drinking responsibly and stocking up on your medication, will help reduce pressure on our health services.” 

There is a number of ways to get health advice and care if you, a family member or a friend feel ill:

Visit the NHS website: for advice and information on how to look after yourself and your family. It covers thousands of illnesses and conditions:  www.nhs.uk

Visit a pharmacy: for expert advice and low-cost medicines to ease your symptoms and help treat your condition. Every area has a late opening pharmacy and most have consulting rooms where you can ask for advice in private. Go to www.nhs.uk to find your nearest open pharmacist.

Visit www.111.nhs.uk or call 111: for free, round the clock help when your GP is closed, when it’s an urgent but not a life-threatening 999 situation, or if you are unsure where to go to get the right help for your medical condition. They can advise you on the help you need and even book you an appointment with a doctor when your own GP is closed.  NHS 111 can also advise on late-opening pharmacies, minor injuries units, mental health help or urgent care centre services.  The online service or the adviser on the phone will direct you to the nearest suitable service to where you are.

Contact your GP practice: GP practices have a range of staff to assess and treat you. Visit your practice website or call them to get help.

Mental health help: if you are in a mental health crisis call NHS 111 and select option 2.  If you are aged over 18 and are worried, anxious or depressed, you can contact your GP or local wellbeing service. Our local wellbeing services provide a range of free and confidential talking therapies and specialist support to help you to feel better.

Bedfordshire: www.bedfordshirewellbeingservice.nhs.uk or call 01234 880400

Luton: www.totalwellbeingluton.org or call 0300 555 4152

Milton Keynes: www.mktalkingtherapies.nhs.uk or call 01908 725099

You can also find self-help materials including tips and activities online at www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help.

Other local services: You can also find information about services in your area at https://bit.ly/3v5t5Py.

Get your vaccinations: Having a flu jab is the best way to protect yourself and those closest to you, and there’s still time for eligible people to get their free NHS flu vaccination: just speak to your pharmacist or your family doctor’s surgery for information, or check whether you are eligible at nhs.uk/flujab. Eligible patients can book a COVID-19 jab via the National Booking Service or take up one of the many walk-in opportunities available.  Our COVID-19 vaccination sites are listed on the national Grab A Jab website as well as on our own website.

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