A challenging winter ahead for local NHS services

NHS services in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire are facing increased pressures and challenges as they continue to respond to COVID-19, deliver the vaccination programme, see patients not seen during the pandemic, and deal with the onset of flu and cold season as we head into winter.

GP practices are experiencing significant demand for their services, and both South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust are facing relentless pressures on their services. This include a significantly high volume of calls to 999 and 111, and higher than normal attendances at the Emergency Department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, alongside rising numbers of people needing admitting with COVID-19.

As such, partners in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire are working closely to manage and limit the pressures on the NHS and the potential impact on local residents. We are working together to:

  1. Reduce demand at the Emergency Department at QA by decreasing numbers attending and admitting
  2. Ensure stays in hospital beds are used for as long as needed and no longer, and
  3. Increase timeliness and volume of daily discharges from our hospitals

We are already seeing some early signs of improvement and must ensure this continues. So, we’re asking for the help of our local residents. Please, help to support this NHS this winter, by:

  • Only using 999 in a life-threatening situation – such as loss of consciousness, persistent and severe chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding that cannot be stopped, or if you suspect someone is having a heart attack or stroke.
  • Use other local NHS services such as an Urgent Treatment Centre, pharmacist or self-care at home – see our handy guide below for which services to use when.
  • Boost your immunity – get your COVID vaccinations, booster and flu jab if you’re eligible.
  • Wear a mask – help to stop transmission of the virus, especially indoors and in crowded spaces such as in shops and on public transport.

There are also lots of local services available if you need some support. These include:

  • PositiveMinds – informal support if you are experiencing low mood, stress or a mild to moderate mental health condition such as depression or anxiety (for those aged 18+, must have a GP within a PO1-PO6 postcode).
  • Talking Change – the service provides talking therapies to help you cope and feel better if you’re struggling with low mood and anxiety, or with a physical condition such as chronic pain or fatigue (must be aged 16+, live in Portsmouth and be registered with a GP in the city).
  • The Harbour – a remote, out of hours service for those at crisis point who need urgent mental health support. Available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4.30pm to 11pm on 07418 364911. If people feel uncomfortable on the phone, they can also text, web chat or use video calls to access the service (for those aged 18+ in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant and East Hampshire).
  • Veteran’s Mental Health – Call NHS 111 and tell them you are a Veteran
  • Let’s Talk About It – Solent NHS Trust Sexual Health Service provides sexual health testing, treatment, advice and contraception to anyone in Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton.