Working together to respond to winter pressures

Somerset County Council, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local hospitals are working together to respond to the increased demand on health and adult social care services in the lead up to winter.

Admissions to local hospitals are already higher than they were in December last year. This puts pressure on adult social care services to support more people to leave hospital quickly and safely.

Somerset County Council has set up a ‘Health Interface Service’ where dedicated social care teams are based in the hospitals. Since this service was introduced in September this has led to much closer working relationships between adult social care staff and hospital staff to ensure people are discharged from hospital at the right time and with the social care services they need. As well as helping to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital.

Cllr William Wallace, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Somerset County Council, said: “We want to make sure that people move in and out of hospital smoothly and safely and have the social care support they need. Our new Health Interface Service staff are based in hospitals and work very closely with health colleagues to make this happen.”

The County Council is also working with the CCG and local hospitals to improve the availability of home care staff to support people to leave hospital and increase the number of step down beds that give people a short stay in a residential or nursing home before they return home or move into a permanent placement somewhere else.

Acting Director of Nursing at Musgrove Park Hospital, Hayley Peters, said: “We know that by working together across health and social care organisations we can make a real difference to the care that people receive. One of the biggest problems we find as a hospital, particularly in the winter, is having appropriate care in place so that when someone is medically fit to leave us they have all the support they need to continue their recovery.”

Helen Ryan, Director of Nursing for Yeovil Hospital, said: “The past year has been extremely busy and the signs are that this winter will be very challenging for all those involved in providing health and social care services. Strong links between health and social care are absolutely fundamental to providing safe and effective care, particularly for the most vulnerable within our communities.”

Dr Ed Ford, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s GP Lead for NHS 111 and Urgent Care, said: “This winter the NHS is reminding older people and carers to stay well; get a flu jab and keep well fed and warm this winter. Don’t wait until you start to become unwell before getting advice or over-the-counter remedies from your local pharmacist. Let’s look out for our elderly friends, relatives or neighbours and help reduce the numbers of people becoming ill and being admitted to hospital.”

Andy Heron, Chief Operating Officer for Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our plans for winter are well advanced and in many cases already in place. As we do every year, we will be working closely with our health and social are partners across Somerset to make sure patients are discharged from our community hospitals as soon as they are ready. We are providing 17 additional beds across our community hospitals as well to make sure beds are available if patients need them.”

There is advice on staying warm and well during winter on the ‘Stay well this winter’ NHS website: and in a ‘Keep Warm, Keep Well’ booklet from government which can be downloaded here: The booklet contains information on living a healthy lifestyle, winter fuel payments and other sources of financial support.

Somerset Direct can also give advice on staying warm and well in winter, call 0300 123 2224.

Or call the NHS 111 health helpline when you don’t know what local health service you need or if you become ill after your GP surgery has closed. The 111 number is free to call from mobile or home telephone and available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.