1. ITV Report

Warning to patients in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire after hospitals placed on ‘black alert’

Health organisations in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire say they are operating on the highest escalation level, OPEL4 Credit: PA

A warning has been issued by health care leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire after hospitals in the area were placed on ‘black alert’.

Patients have been reminded to “use NHS services wisely” while local health care units continue to operate at OPEL4 - the highest escalation level.

Health care leaders say patients can help reduce the pressure on services by avoiding A&E - unless it is a genuine, life-threatening emergency.

In recent days we’ve seen an increase in hospital admissions together with a higher number of very ill patients who need to stay in hospital for longer.

We have well-rehearsed plans in place to manage this demand but A&E departments in particular are under considerable pressure and we expect this to continue throughout the week. Members of the public can help us manage demand by using the most appropriate service for their needs and most importantly, only using A&E for genuine life-threatening emergencies.

– Dr Martin Jones

Alternatives to A&E

Patients are instead advised to consider visiting a minor injury unit, a pharmacist or their local GP.

The NHS’ 111 number is also available for people who urgently need medical help or advice but are not in a life-threatening situation.

Patients have been urged not to visit A&E unless they're in a life-threatening emergency. Credit: PA

It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be accessed online or by phone. The service can book an appointment for patients to see a GP out of hours if clinically appropriate.

Minor injuries units and urgent care centres are available at South Bristol Community Hospital, Clevedon and Yate offering fast, local treatment of minor injuries such as strains, sprains and broken bones, without a trip to A&E.

They are available from 8am to 8pm (8.30pm for Clevedon unit), seven days a week.

The Walk-In Centre at 59 Broadmead offers similar services to minor injuries units and can also help with minor illnesses and emergency contraception and advice.