System pressures – issued on behalf of Cornwall’s health and care system

NHS Kernow’s Chairman Dr Iain Chorlton said: “Our health and care system is under extreme pressure, caused in part by high levels of demand on some services. Our incredible staff across all health and care services are pulling out all the stops to keep people well at home, make sure people get the care they need, avoiding the need to come into hospital wherever possible, and getting people in hospital back home as soon as we can, with the right support in place to make sure they’re not re-admitted. 

“We monitor demand for services on a daily basis and anticipated high levels of demand after the Christmas holiday. Senior leaders across the health and social care system, led by Kathy Byrne CEO of RCHT, have been working together over the last few months to put in place a range of extra capacity and support to help us maintain services, including for example:  

  • 999 crews or specialist paramedics treating as many people as possible at location to reduce admitting them to hospital. In-hours, 999 crews will call the patient’s GP first to see if an admission can be avoided and at evenings and weekends will call the GP out of hours’ service. 
  • GPs are making extra visits to care homes; offering more daytime appointments and a weekend service to review patients with complex needs to prevent hospital admission. Home visits are also being arranged to take place before 1pm. 
  • Extra patient support vehicles to free up ambulance crews and additional drivers from the voluntary sector to get people home from hospital in the evening and weekend.  

“In spite of all of this extra capacity services are still stretched. We’re urging anyone contacted by the hospital to collect someone who is ready for home, to do so as soon as possible. This is critical to make beds available for other people coming in who need treatment and even collecting your friend or relative a few hours earlier in the day can make a difference. 

“We’re appealing to the public to use the right service and to keep the emergency department free for anyone with serious and life-threatening conditions, such as chest pain, stroke, severe abdominal pain, severe bleeding or breathing difficulties, major broken bones and serious head injuries.

“Your GP can treat routine health needs and many surgeries have a minor ailment service offering same day appointments with specialist nurses who can treat chest infections, rashes and viruses. You can also call NHS 111 for free, urgent healthcare advice, 24-hours a day, including when your GP surgery is closed.

“Doctors and nurses at our minor injury units and urgent care centres will treat minor burns, broken bones, sprains and strains. Our new online service will tell you how long you may have to wait at the emergency department, minor injury unit or urgent care centre; how many people are waiting to be seen, how many people are in the department, opening times and x-ray availability. Visit

“Pharmacists can treat coughs, colds, upset stomachs, flu and minor ailments such as nappy rash, conjunctivitis, oral thrush and cystitis. They can also prescribe an emergency supply of medication if you have forgotten to renew your regular medication.”