Huge demand for care over Christmas

With the arrival of 56 babies, 2,000 emergency department and minor injury unit attendances, over 3,600 calls to the 111 and out of hours GP service, and over 420 calls to the mental health line since Christmas Eve, it’s been one of the busiest year’s ever for NHS staff across Cornwall.
“It’s been a busy time for our staff in acute and community hospitals, mental health, 111 integrated urgent care and emergency ambulance services,” said Kieran Bignell, System Director of Emergency Care at NHS Kernow, “and a massive thank you goes out to everyone who has been providing care through the Christmas break.”

Over the last four days there has been an unprecedented number of calls to the integrated care service which provides 111 and out of hours GP services. On Boxing Day alone, the team dealt with more than 883 callers, provided 92 clinic appointments, and made 69 home visits.

Whilst only 216 people turned up at the emergency department and minor injury units on Christmas Day, that number rose by 141% to 512 on bank holiday Monday, 27 December. More than half of the 2,000 attendances have been in the last two days (27 and 28 December).

Susan Bracefield, Chief Operating Officer at RCHT said, “We prepared well for the bank holiday, discharging as many of those ready to leave hospital as we could, so we had beds available for the additional demand we see on our services at this time of year, when some of the usual support networks are less available.

“Over the next few days we will be doing that again as we head toward the New Year bank holiday. Our community can really help us by collecting relatives and friends before 10 am on the day they are ready to leave hospital.

“We also need to ask for everyone’s continued support in using the right services if you do need health care or advice. GP surgeries are open this week and will be open again as usual after the bank holiday. Pharmacies can also provide expert advice on a wide range of minor ailments and the Handi App, which you can download to your smartphone, is a great source of information for treating common childhood illnesses.

Kieran added, “Unless your need is serious or life-threatening please help us by not coming to our emergency department or calling out of hours services with a long-standing condition, or something that could otherwise wait. Our clinical teams need to be able to concentrate on those people who are in genuinely urgent need. 111 online can guide you to the right place, and if you’re calling 111 by phone, do give us more time to answer during busy periods.”

Over the coming weeks Cornwall could also see the impact of the Omicron covid variant on the demand for hospital and other services and everyone is urged to make sure they are fully vaccinated, including booster doses. It can take around 7 to 10 days for the vaccine to start working, and the side effects are mild compared to the symptoms of COVID-19. Vaccination clinics are open throughout this week and next, including plenty of walk-in sessions, so start 2022 by giving yourself, your loved one and our NHS protection from COVID-19. Details of times and locations can be found online at You can also book an appointment by calling 119 or online via the national booking service –

Information on all the services available, including mental health support, and how to access them can be found on the NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Added on 30 December 2021, in News - General News

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