Health bosses issue summer plea to 'choose well' amid fears over 'sustained rise' in demand

HEALTH leaders across Hampshire are urging people to ‘choose well’ this summer as the NHS battles with rising demand and a backlog of patients.

The plea comes amid warnings that hospitals in tourism hotspots - like Portsmouth - could struggle to cope with the extra demand from holidaymakers.

Senior chiefs in the county have stressed hospitals and emergency departments will always be there for those in need.

They have warned that staff in ‘all sectors’ of the NHS locally - from GP surgeries and hospitals, to mental health services and paramedics - have ‘been seeing a sustained trend of rising demand’ following the pandemic.

Junior doctor Dr Raphael Lippa outside A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham Picture: Chris Moorhouse (171020-)

Dr Derek Sandeman, chief medical officer at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System, said: ‘The public’s support during the pandemic so far has been inspiring and humbling, and NHS staff across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are still totally focused on doing what they do so brilliantly - working incredibly hard to serve those people who rely on them so much.

‘I know I speak on behalf of colleagues from all parts of the NHS when I say that we are all so grateful for the backing we have received.

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‘The best way that people can continue to show that support is by thinking carefully about the help they need and choosing well – not just to help the staff, but to help themselves get the right help, quickly.

‘Emergency departments will always be there for anyone facing a really serious or life-threatening emergency, but for everyone else there are excellent options which are quicker, and more convenient.’

Health leaders have said the 111 emergency phone line can help direct people where to go if they have suffered minor injuries or are feeling ill.

Dr Sandeman added: ‘Thinking carefully about the help you need is a “win-win”. Patients win because it means getting the right support, at the first time of asking. And staff win because they are able to focus their skills and efforts on caring for the people who need them.

‘Pharmacies can provide a huge range of medicines and expert advice, close to home. Using the NHS 111 service – either online, or by phone – lets the NHS do the thinking for you, and will direct you straight to the right place for your needs.’

Dr Sandeman added all GP practices offered ‘on the day’ services as well as routine appointments and that treatment centres, like the one at St Mary’s Hospital could offer people ‘more local alternatives’ to waiting in an emergency department.

‘‘The impact of the pandemic on the NHS right now is thankfully far less than it has been, but everyone still has a key role to play in helping our frontline teams to give people the best possible help,’ Dr Sandeman said.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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