Devon NHS under severe pressure – help us to help you

Published: 29 December 2022

Devon’s acute hospitals and ambulance service are extremely busy, with people waiting a very long time in emergency departments to be seen and treated.

The local NHS, including South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, is appealing for people to choose the most appropriate service for their needs – to ensure people who need life-threatening and critical care can be treated as quickly as possible.

Speaking on behalf of Devon’s acute hospitals, Prof Mark Hamilton, Medical Director at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said: “We are asking the public to please think carefully before attending our Emergency Departments so that we can be there for those who need us most.

“If you’re ill or injured but it’s not life threatening and you’re unsure where to turn, please use or call 111 for advice. They’ll tell you where to go to receive the quickest care possible, and the 111 phone service can book you into an NHS service if needed, helping to save you time.

“Across Devon, a number of Urgent Treatment Centres and Minor Injury Units are open, as is the Walk-in Centre in Exeter, and GP surgeries are open on Thursday and Friday (29 and 30 December) as usual.

“Local pharmacies are also open, including over the New Year weekend, and can offer advice and treatments for minor injuries and ailments.”

Carolyn Mills, Chief Nursing Officer at the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “High numbers of patients across Devon have Covid, flu, other respiratory diseases and norovirus, and this adding to the significant pressures we face.

“We have infection prevention and control measures in place to reduce the spread of these viruses, but we need the public to help us – please do not visit a loved one in hospital if you feel unwell, as you risk making them, our staff and other patients, very sick. If you have a planned appointment and have symptoms of a virus, please call the number at the top of your letter to postpone your appointment.

“If you do need to use our services or visit a loved one, to help us stop the spread of viruses, please follow the infection prevention and control guidance in place for each hospital. This includes good hand hygiene and wearing a facemask. Please see the hospitals’ websites for more information.”

Mr Ian Curie, Medical Director at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The actions of the public will make a huge difference to our hospitals across Devon, and so we are asking that the public use the right service for their needs.

“We have to stress though, that if you are seriously ill or injured, you should call 999 or visit one of our emergency departments.

“We’d like to thank the public for their continued support and for continuing to be kind to our staff at this very difficult time, and we’d also like to express our gratitude to our colleagues across all health and care services, including the voluntary sector, who continue to go above and beyond for their local communities.”