AS Somerset’s emergency and urgent care services experience their highest level of demand, people are being asked to help themselves and their local NHS by getting the right treatment for their level of ill health.

Over Christmas and New Year, the ambulance service and Somerset’s district hospital A&E departments saw their highest ever number of admissions each day.

It was mainly due to exceptionally high numbers of frail elderly people being admitted to hospital with serious breathing problems and severe illness.

Members of the public are reminded to take care of their health by keeping warm and treating the early symptoms of colds, flu or minor illness with advice and over-the-counter remedies from their local pharmacist. Friends and family members can help by checking on the welfare of their elderly relatives and neighbours.

People who are already feeling ill and need medical attention quickly can contact their GP and make an urgent, same day appointment.

Somerset’s GP practices now offer pre-booked routine appointments until 8pm.

If you become ill overnight and after your GP surgery has closed, telephone NHS 111 to access the GP out-of-hours urgent care service, Somerset Doctors Urgent Care.

For anyone with a minor injury, like a fractured bone, cut, bruise, or burn, Somerset has seven minor injury units at community hospitals in Minehead, Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Frome, West Mendip Hospital and Shepton Mallet.

Dr Ed Ford, a Minehead GP and chairman of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "The 999 ambulance service and district hospital accident and emergency departments are at their highest level of demand at this time and treating the most ill and seriously injured patients.

"I would therefore ask anyone who is experiencing minor illness or injury to stop and consider the health service they need for their level of illness and not calling upon the emergency services."

He added: "If you are not sure what health service you need or what to do, then please telephone NHS 111. The service is available 24 hours a day and is free to call, from your mobile or home telephone."

If you or a family member believes they are experiencing a life-threatening emergency then telephone 999 for an ambulance immediately.