HOSPITAL bosses say pressure on the NHS in south Devon is not letting up as winter comes to an end with a huge demand on services last week. 

NHS Devon is asking people to continue to choose the best health service for their need and collect loved ones who are ready to be discharged from hospital.

The latest weekly national data continues to show a reduction in flu cases in hospital, however there were still on average 1,333 patients in a ward bed with flu each day last week. 

While this was down by just under a half when compared to the current peak for this winter of 2,487 flu cases per day, it was still more than three times higher compared to the same week last year.

The number of patients with norovirus remained the same as last week, with an average of 470 patients with the virus in hospital every day. 

The latest data also shows there were 1,862 beds occupied by patients with Covid-19.

Dr Nigel Acheson, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Devon, said: ‘This winter has been incredibly busy and challenging for the NHS with staff juggling high demand for services, pressure caused by flu, Covid and norovirus, high bed occupancy and periods of industrial action.

‘This latest data shows we are still experiencing significant demand going into spring.

‘It is important that those needing emergency or life-saving care contact 999 or attend ED but we ask everyone else to choose the best service for their medical need. If your condition isn’t life-threatening, consider 111, your GP or local pharmacy first.

‘To ensure we can free up beds for the really sick patients who are coming into our emergency departments, we ask anyone who has a loved one in hospital who is ready to come home, to come and collect them as soon as possible.’

The advice remains to call 999 in emergency and life-threatening cases when someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. 

Otherwise, go to NHS 111 online if you need medical help or advice, or you are unsure about whether you should go to hospital; you can also phone 111

Check local hospital trust websites for information on Minor Injury Units and Urgent Treatment Centres. Further information can be found here: Health Pressures - One Devon

Take simple steps to look after yourselves and loved ones, checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours. A first step is making sure your medicine cabinet is well-stocked.

Pick up loved ones who are ready to be discharged from hospital.

Make use of community pharmacies, which can advise on minor illnesses and provide medications.