Bristol’s NHS is under pressure

Maria Kane, Chief Executive of North Bristol NHS Trust, covering one half of Bristol's NHS
Today’s blog is from Maria Kane, Chief Executive of North Bristol NHS Trust, covering part of NHS healthcare system in Bristol

I joined North Bristol NHS Trust in April 2021 and I’m delighted to be here at this significant point in the NHS’ history. I have relocated to Bristol, where some of my family live, and can already see what a fantastic city it is. I’m looking forward to continuing to get to know the area and the local people.

Summer is usually the chance for Bristol’s NHS to recover from the busy months that have come before and prepare for the Winter ahead. But for this year that has not been the case.

We are in the middle of a Summer that feels like Winter. People are suffering with respiratory illnesses that are usually prevalent in the colder months. As a result, we are seeing more people coming into our Emergency Department, alongside complaints that do not need the expertise of our teams and could be better managed closer to home.

We have also seen a rise of patients in Southmead Hospital with COVID-19, which brings challenges because we need to care for these patients in dedicated areas. This limits the number of beds we can safely make available.

These extra challenges come at a time when all of us – particularly our NHS staff – need to recover more than at any other time in our NHS’ history, having come out of a prolonged period of pressure on our services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  I pay tribute to and thank our NHS wonderful staff who have worked so hard over the last 18 months. We needed this Summer to recover from the demands of the busiest period we have ever faced, to start catching up on the waiting lists which grew over lockdowns.

And so, my ask of you is to please help us and our staff.

How can you help support Bristol’s NHS?

If you have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, please book your vaccination, or attend one of the walk-in clinics. You can find details on You can even get vaccinated while doing your shopping with the new clinic that has opened in Cabot Circus!

If you become unwell or suffer a minor injury, you may be able to take care of yourself at home. If you’re not sure how to deal with a minor illness or injury, such as a cold or sprain, your local pharmacy can help. They will probably be able to advise you much quicker than our busy Emergency Department, which is intended for serious and life-threatening emergencies. Obviously, if it is an emergency you must call an ambulance and we will be here waiting to treat you in a timely way.

You can also help by supporting your loved ones if they are ready to leave hospital: perhaps by preparing things at home so that they can leave hospital sooner, or by picking them up so they do not need to wait for hospital transport. All of these things take pressure off our services and our staff and mean your friends and relatives get to where they will best finish their recovery sooner – home.

We are still all in this together and your support of our NHS team is really appreciated.