TOO many people are arriving at Bridgwater Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit with potentially fatal heart attacks, according to one of the service’s key consultants.

Across Somerset, more people are being encouraged to use their local minor injuries unit as hospitals and GPs continue to feel the pressure.
But Bridgwater residents seem to be bucking the trend and arrive at the MIU in the backs of cars showing symptoms of potentially life-threatening heart attacks.

Mike Paynter, consultant nurse for the minor injuries service, said that last year more than 105,000 people used Somerset’s MIUs and 97 per cent of patients had their case fully managed at the hospital.

Mr Paynter said: “It is really important that patients with heart attacks, strokes and major issues call 999 as opposed to just turning up in the back of a car with a heart attack.

“We saw 34,000 patients here in Bridgwater last year, which is not only the busiest, but also the most patients coming in from the street. That is patients that are self-presenting, that can’t access a GP or don’t need to go to hospital or A and E.

“Clearly there is not the infrastructure of an intensive care unit, but certainly those walking injured or wounded should be using their local minor injuries unit.

“In those fully managed cases patients didn’t need to go anywhere else.”

As Somerset’s health services prepare for the winter, residents are being told to ‘be prepared’. This focus includes three main three areas. The first is making sure that vulnerable groups, such as children, elderly people, those with diabetes and pregnant women, have their flu jab.

Target groups and members of the public who are expecting to spend the festive period with those people within them are urged to get the vaccine.

The other two focus points are ensuring that you are stocked up on necessary medication, and knowing which facility is best to deal with your injury or illness.

Mr Paynter added: “The term minor injuries unit is actually a bit of a misnomer. It is an illness service as well as an injury service. A lot of people don’t appreciate that.
“There were about 105,000 patients seen at MIUs in Somerset last year.”