Appeal goes out to patients as Devon's health service buckle under pressure

Head shot of GP

Dr Paul Johnson - Credit: Devon CCG

A leading doctor has appealed to the public for help as Devon’s health and social care system faces extreme pressure due to high demand for services, sustained demand for Covid beds, pressure on staffing and the need for social care exceeding the available capacity.

Pressures are being seen across the system, in mental health care, GP surgeries and adult social care as well as in acute hospital trusts.  

Dr Paul Johnson, Chair of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We really need you to support us.  Please ask yourself whether you have a genuine life-threatening emergency before attending an Emergency Departmen. If you are not in the right place, you may be redirected to a more appropriate service. This is because we need to safely prioritise those with the most urgent need.

“We are also asking people to pick up friends or relatives as soon as they are well enough to be discharged from hospital. This frees up beds for other patients who need them.

“Finally, we are seeing high numbers of children coming to hospital. There is a really useful HANDi paediatric app for advice on common childhood illnesses and when to seek help.”

There are other ways people can support services.  These include:
Using your local pharmacist for minor conditions such as insect bites, ear ache and skin rashes.
Using NHS 111 – online or by phone if you need advice or medical treatment quickly and can’t wait to see your GP. If you need to be seen by a Minor Injuries or Emergency Department they can book you in.
Getting vaccinated against Covid-19. Have both jabs and your booster if you are eligible
Staying away from hospitals if you have Covid symptoms, or diarrhoea and vomiting

Other causes of pressure include some people using ED inappropriately, high numbers of staff off work due to Covid or other reasons and a high number of vacancies in the current competitive jobs market. The enhanced infection prevention and control measures that were implemented during the height of the pandemic have been reduced to some extent, but are still higher than before the pandemic and means fewer people can be treated in the same time period than in normal times.



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