Health leaders are appealing to the public for support as teams across the county continue to tackle sustained and increasing pressure on services across the board.

A combination of rising COVID-19 levels, the ongoing heatwave, demand for health and care services and other factors have compounded challenges already being faced by dedicated health and care teams working tirelessly to ensure people continue to receive safe and quality care.

Nationally, hospitals last week saw a 33 per cent increase in admissions due to COVID-19.

Bosses are now urging people to consider which service is best for their need before heaping further strain on the system.

Dr Zaid Hirmiz, GP and clinical director at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said: “I cannot emphasise enough how hard colleagues across Hampshire and Isle of Wight are working together to ensure our patients continue being able to access the care they need when they need it.

“People can help by choosing the right service, keeping our Emergency Departments, ambulance service and urgent care appointments free for those who need them and considering where else they could get care whether that’s their local pharmacy, an online consultation through their GP practice or contacting NHS 111 online.”

Latest figures show that general practice staff in Hampshire and Isle of Wight recorded over 790,000 appointments in May alone, with over half (nearly 470,000) taking place face-to-face. This is compared to May 2020 when over 440,000 appointments in general practice were recorded with less than half (just over 196,000) taking place face to face.

In May 2022, over 38,000 appointments in general practice were missed – an average of more than 1,225 a day and more than three times the amount of appointments missed in May 2020 (12,000).

An NHS spokesperson said: "Sometimes the right treatment can be self-managed when appropriate, so by making sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit at home you can deal with minor ailments such as hay fever, sunburn, bumps and grazes, as well as coughs and colds. The NHS website has lots of information on what you should have in your first aid kit or if you have questions about using them, you can visit your local pharmacy for advice.

"Please remember if you have symptoms of a respiratory illness including coughs and cold, national guidance recommends you stay at home until you feel better. This is to reduce the risk of you having COVID-19 and passing it onto others. If you are unwell and need to go out, please wear a mask and keep your distance.

"Top tips to get the best care, and to support NHS frontline teams:

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19 because it is the best form of protection for you and your loved ones. If you have any questions about being vaccinated or where you can get your jab, please contact the Hampshire and Isle of Wight COVID-19 helpline on 0300 561 0018 (Open between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm at weekends). More information is available here.
  • As well as offering face-to-face appointments where appropriate, your GP practice has online access and a range of expert help – it’s a convenient and quick way of getting the help you need. Remember we have a wide range of experts working in general practice so you might be directed to someone other than your GP where appropriate.
  • Help patients get home when they’re ready to leave hospital – it’s better for them and frees up beds for others. Don’t rely on patient transport, if you are able to collect your loved ones, this will help get them home quicker.
  • The Emergency Department (ED) is for emergencies, not convenience.
  • Not sure what help you need? Contact 111 online and let the experts help you.
  • Urgent treatment centres are best for minor injuries and have x-ray facilities.
  • Use our experts on the high street and speak to our pharmacy teams for advice on minor ailments or medication queries.
  • Look after yourself – being ready to care for yourself can be a great help, and there are some great tips here.

"Make use of online help – try for health and medicines advice, and if you are concerned about an unwell child."