It’s not OK: healthcare staff stand together against unacceptable behaviour

Local NHS health and care organisations are repeating calls for people to be kind and respectful, following a rise in violent, aggressive and abusive behaviour towards staff.

Whilst the majority of patients and visitors to healthcare settings are respectful and appreciative, there has continued to be a worrying rise in abusive behaviour during the pandemic.

Healthcare staff know and appreciate that there will be occasions where patients, due to the nature of their condition or through cognitive impairment, may become confused or stressed in unfamiliar environments; which can lead to challenging behaviour. Staff are offered de-escalation training to help deal with these kinds of instances in an appropriate manner.

However, there are many violent, aggressive and abusive incidents which do not involve such patients and can have a lasting impact on NHS staff who deserve to be able to feel safe when they come to work.

A campaign called ‘It’s not OK’ is under way, which features healthcare staff sharing their experiences and urging the public to respect healthcare staff and remember that they’re people, too, following the rise in incidents.

Lizzy Hooper, deputy matron at Yate’s Minor Injury Unit (MIU) says: “I shouldn’t have to be fearful for my team’s safety, yet this is a large part of what I am facing at the moment. We work very hard to ensure people in our care can be safely assessed and supported with their health care needs. It can be very challenging when individuals expect us to be able to see conditions we are not able to treat; we can only see minor injuries less than two weeks old. Some people visiting the department are reluctant to accept there are more appropriate options available to meet their needs. We would ask people to be kind and understand the pressures that we are all facing in these challenging times.”

Hannah Walker, a sister in the children’s emergency department at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children which is part of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), said: “Unfortunately, we have seen a significant increase in the number of incidents of violence and aggression displayed towards staff by members of the public. This is not acceptable. It impacts on how staff feel at work and can also be really challenging for other families to witness. Please remember our staff are people too, please treat us with respect.”

Donna Walker, receptionist for Yate’s Minor Injury Unit (MIU), says, “I can feel quite vulnerable while working at the front desk and not knowing who I may deal with every day, particularly when it is really busy. It can also feel very unsettling and demoralising when trying to help a person, only to be yelled at and sworn at along with negative and quite mean comments made towards me and my colleagues.”

Michaela Winkworth, a call handler for the outpatient appointment centre at UHBW, said: “I absolutely love my job as a call handler and find it very rewarding to help patients. Unfortunately, there have been many occasions when patients call and can be verbally abusive and use abusive language. This can make me feel deflated and drained and can be quite stressful.”

Robyn Clark, practice manager at Kingswood Health Centre, said: “There is enormous pressure on the healthcare system at the moment and surgery staff are doing their best to support and assist patients wherever possible. Sadly the amount of abuse being directed at them is still continuing and I have had to write to more patients regarding unacceptable behaviour in the last six months than in the previous four years. Many reception staff are now leaving their roles as a result, making it even harder for patients to get through and obtain the help they need. We want to reinforce that healthcare staff are people too, and patients should treat staff how they would like to be treated in the same scenario. We are all in this together.”

Dr Katrina Boutin, GP at Old School Surgery in Fishponds, says: “Unfortunately, we are still seeing too many cases where patients become violent and aggressive with our clinical or reception staff, which is extremely distressing for them. Staff in GP surgeries are working harder than ever to see and speak to as many patients as we can in the face of extremely high levels of demand.

“We want to make sure that you see or speak to the person who can best help you with your concerns and that we prioritise those who have the greatest clinical need. We understand that this can be frustrating at times if you have to wait longer than you’d like for an appointment, but aggressive or abusive behaviour makes things even more challenging for us. We would really appreciate your patience and understanding.”

There are a number of measures in place to support healthcare staff when experiencing violent or aggressive behaviour from patients; ranging from warning letters and acceptable behaviour contracts to patients being excluded from the premises and, in some circumstances, involving the police.

NHS staff should be able to carry out their work free from the threat of aggressive or abusive behaviour, while being treated with respect and remembering they are people, too.


Bristol health and care partners urge simple covid precautions to help protect communities

Statement from Bristol COVID-19 Local Engagement Board, Health Protection Advisory Group and Bristol City Partners:

We know that everyone has had to make a sacrifice. Now we are seeing lives and livelihoods are being disrupted once again - the virus is thriving as people gather indoors and the cold weather sets in.

The virus continues to circulate widely in our communities, impacting individuals, families, businesses and some of our most vulnerable communities and, together, we must take action.

We are not in the same place we were last year. Thankfully, due to the successful rollout of the vaccination programme, many more people have a strong layer of protection against becoming severely unwell from the virus.

In Bristol, 77% of people over 16 have had one dose of a vaccine, and 71% of people over 16 have had both doses of a vaccine. However, this does not mean the virus still can’t be passed on to others – many of our younger population, frontline workers and those most vulnerable are still at risk of becoming unwell.

Bristol must prepare for what is likely to be a very challenging winter – for us as individuals and families, but also for our NHS and social care colleagues, our schools, universities and colleges and our local business.

Our frontline NHS and health staff are still under considerable pressure, and we ask that you be patient with staff in hospitals, surgeries or care homes, where pressures are resulting in longer waits – they are doing their best in tough circumstances.

Our businesses and social enterprises are still at risk of closure due to staff shortages.

Over the winter, our health and care systems, workers and individuals are likely to be additionally vulnerable to other cold weather pressures such as flu and winter bugs.

The evidence tells us:

  • Wearing a face covering reduces the chance of infection.
  • Testing identifies positive cases, and people who are positive and have no symptoms.
  • Isolation prevents transmission.
  • Fresh air reduces transmission.
  • Vaccination reduces harm and saves lives.

And as a city, with our neighbours and wider partners, Bristol expects and strongly recommends the adoption of these simple precautionary measures to protect us all:

  • If you are unwell, reduce the spread of infection by recovering at home.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate at home and book a PCR test.
  • Make use of the offer of free lateral flow (rapid) testing – uptake in Bristol has been very high which is really positive.
  • Wear a face covering (unless exempt) – in crowded areas like supermarkets and in shops, on public transport and indoor settings.
  • Respect one another’s space – mild illness for you could be very serious for someone else, so please think of others when you’re out and about.
  • Meet outdoors where you are able, or if you’re meeting indoors, make sure to open a window or door to let in blasts of fresh air – this is particularly important when you’re meeting or socialising with people or family members who may be more vulnerable to severe illness.
  • If you are invited for your annual flu jab, or you’re contacted about a COVID-19 booster vaccination, do not delay in booking your appointment.
  • Take additional precautions and consider the risks of visiting elderly people or family members in care homes.
  • We expect and recommend people be kind and empathetic towards one another – we are all in this together, and must support one another through what is likely to be another tough winter.

Thank you.


Chair-designate confirmed for BNSSG Integrated Care System

Jeff Farrar has today (Friday, 15 October) been announced as Chair-designate of the Healthier Together Partnership, the Integrated Care System (ICS) for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG).

The appointment follows a nationally run competitive process to secure Chairs for Integrated Care Systems across England, ahead of the bodies becoming statutory from April 2022. All appointments have been recommended by NHS England and Improvement, and approved by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Jeff has been interim Chair of the Partnership – formed of local organisations, including NHS hospital Trusts, community services, the three local authorities and BNSSG Healthwatch – since April 2021. Prior to this Jeff held the role of Chair for the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW). His career in the public sector includes 35 years with the police service, where he reached the rank of Chief Constable with Gwent Police.

Speaking about his appointment, Jeff said:

‘It’s a real privilege to take up this role.

The response to the pandemic and the strength of the local vaccination roll-out show what can be achieved when we work with our communities as equal partners. In continuing to develop these approaches, we have a great opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

We have big ambitions as Healthier Together – to improve people’s health and happiness, provide services that fit in with people’s lives and tackle the inequalities some groups face. Fortunately, we have real strengths to build on - including the deepening partnership between our organisations, a vibrant voluntary and community sector and our incredible health and care workforce.

I’m looking forward to getting started in the new role and working with my colleagues across the health and care system to put people at the heart of all we do.’

Julia Ross and Robert Woolley, Co-Executive Leads for Healthier Together, said:

‘We are delighted to be benefitting from Jeff’s significant experience into the future. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and a deep commitment to involving citizens in our work.

Jeff’s ability to bring people together, hear different perspectives and lead compassionately has already been a real asset to us as interim Chair, and we look forward to working with him as the ICS progresses to its next exciting phase.’

A Health and Care Bill that will put Integrated Care Systems on a statutory footing (to be comprised of an Integrated Care Board and a wider Integrated Care Partnership) is currently progressing through Parliament. The changes are set to commence from April 2022, and are designed to accelerate the progress made in recent years to better integrate health and care services around people’s needs.

Integrated Care Boards and Integrated Care Partnerships

The Health and Care Bill 2021, which contains a series of measures to formally establish Integrated Care Systems (ICS), is currently at Committee Stage receiving a detailed examination following its second reading.

Assuming the Bill passes, in April 2022, every part of England will be covered by an Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Integrated Care Partnership (ICP). This builds on the existing non-statutory ICSs across England, which for the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester area is currently covered by the Healthier Together partnership. The ICB and ICP will replace the current Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

A key element of preparing for legislation to take effect is confirming who would take up senior roles within each ICB, starting with the ICB Chair Designate.

The ICB will take on the NHS commissioning functions of CCGs as well as some of NHS England’s commissioning functions. It will also be accountable for NHS spend and performance within the system. Each area will also have an Integrated Care Partnership or ICP, a joint committee which brings together the ICB and their partner local authorities, and other locally determined representatives (for example from health, social care, public health; and potentially others, such as social care or housing providers). The ICP will develop a strategy to address the health, social care and public health needs of their system, and being a forum to support partnership working.

The ICB and local authorities will have to have regard to ICP strategies when making decisions. Read more about the legislation here.


Local health and care leaders call for public support

Health and care leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are calling on public support to help manage pressures on services, as an increase in non-Covid demand coincides with staffing challenges and continued hospitalisations from the virus.

More than 70 people are being treated for Covid-19 in the area’s hospitals, with a number in intensive care. An increase in people seeking non-Covid support and the recent need for staff to self-isolate has stretched services further – after more than a year of managing the pandemic.

To help cope with these pressures – and ensure that those with the most urgent care needs get the right help first time – people are asked to Help Us Help You, by:

  • Thinking twice about the right service for your needs, using 111 online and pharmacy for minor ailments.
  • Only calling 999 in the event of a serious or life-threatening emergency.
  • Prioritising your second vaccination, taking it up as soon as you are eligible.
  • Supporting your loved ones home from hospital as soon as they are medically ready to be discharged.
  • Being patient with staff in our health and care settings, where pressures are resulting in longer waits.

An increase in urgent care demand has significant knock-on effects in the wider health and care system. Health and care staff - including physiotherapists and community nurses - are being asked to work in different locations to help manage the surge, meaning that people may need to wait longer for routine services and outpatient appointments.

Rigorous infection prevention and control measures remain in place to protect the most vulnerable, meaning there are fewer hospital beds and less space in waiting areas than prior to the pandemic. Elective procedure cancellations are under continuous review, with difficult decisions being taken on a daily basis as the NHS strives to protect as much of people’s planned care as possible.

Dr Peter Brindle, Medical Director at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“We are facing a unique set of pressures this summer which are being felt across all health and social care services. Community case rates of coronavirus remain high in our area, and we have a challenging few weeks ahead of us as non-Covid demand continues to rise.

“The NHS is absolutely here for you, and people shouldn’t hold on to any symptoms they’re concerned about. However, we do need people to use services considerately and think about the best option for their needs before they set off. If you attend our emergency departments with a minor injury or illness, you’ll be redirected to a more appropriate service – so checking your options before you leave the house is going to save a lot of time.

“111 online and pharmacy are great first ports of call for minor ailments, and can offer a range of expert clinical advice to help you get the support you need – including onward referral if necessary.”

Cllr Mike Bell, deputy leader and executive member for health and care at North Somerset Council said:

“With the pressures that we’re seeing currently across the local health and care system it’s vital that we all play our part to make sure that those in greatest need get the right care when they need it. As a council we’re working closely with our NHS and health partners to ensure that patients leaving hospital move on to get the ongoing care they need either at home or in a care home.

“Families are hugely important for anyone being discharged from hospital and can really help by supporting their loved ones home as soon as possible. And we can all help by following the NHS advice, making sure that if we need health or medical advice that we’re using the right service for our needs.”

Chris Sivers, Director for Children, Adults and Health at South Gloucestershire Council, said:

“Due to a number of contributing factors, the entire health and care system is under considerable strain, and we are asking everyone to play their part to help us manage this pressure.

“Local authority social care departments have an important role in ensuring that those who need support when their NHS care ends, receive the right services at the right time, and the care needed for their continued recovery, and wherever possible, continued independence. We support more people in their own homes than in care homes and we work closely with NHS partners to ensure that if people need treatment or more care at home, this is arranged quickly so that people only go into hospital care if that is the right place for their treatment.

“Families can also help ease the pressures by supporting their loved ones home from hospital as soon as they are medically ready to be discharged, ensuring that they contact the right service for their requirements, and by being patient and considerate if they do experience any delays.”

Christina Gray, Director for Communities and Public Health at Bristol City Council, said:

“It’s vital we all remember the virus has not gone away. Our local health services continue to be under immense pressure. This is largely due to the number of people needing treatment as a result of COVID-19, an increase of non-COVID support, tackling the backlog of non-COVID work and staff shortages. Staff shortages are currently impacted by those needing to self-isolate, as well as staff being on leave for a well-deserved break after an incredibly busy 18 months.

“We continue to work closely with health settings and staff at this challenging time. The Bristol City Council Discharge Team is working rigorously to support patients being medically discharged from hospital, to get people home safely and ease the pressure on services. I urge citizens to do their bit to support health staff and ensure people in urgent need of care get the right support, as soon as possible. Please use the right service for your needs and support loved ones home from hospital as soon as they are medically discharged.

“Getting both doses of your COVID-19 vaccine, taking regular lateral flow (rapid) tests and getting a PCR test if you develop symptoms of the virus are all still key actions that will help us drive down COVID-19 rates and recover from the pandemic.

“Thank you to everyone who has been playing their part in helping to keep everyone safe.”

A complete list of local support - including mental health helpline numbers, the HandiApp for parents, and the latest news on available coronavirus vaccination clinics - has been refreshed online to help people make informed decisions about their care. The webpage can be found on our local resources page.


NHS Walk-In Vaccination Clinic Opens at Cabot Circus

Over the next six weeks, people can have their COVID-19 vaccination while they shop at a new Vaccination Clinic at Cabot Circus, BS1 3BX. The NHS Clinic is located on the upper ground floor of Cabot Circus next to Five Guys and Claire’s, and is part of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire’s (BNSSG) drive to make it as easy as possible to be vaccinated around work and lifestyle commitments.

The Pfizer clinic is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11am to 7pm, from 12 August until 2 October. It is open to anyone aged 17 ¾ and over having their first vaccination or their second dose if their first dose was 8 weeks ago. No appointment is needed and full details, alongside information about other local walk-in clinics, can be found at www.grabajab.net.

Dr Tim Whittlestone, Clinical Lead for the BNSSG Vaccination Programme, said: “We are delighted to open this clinic at Cabot Circus. We’re working hard to make it as easy as possible for people in our area to have the COVID-19 vaccination and this fantastic destination in the heart of Bristol’s shopping district, couldn’t be more convenient!

“Throughout the vaccine roll-out, we have challenged ourselves to think differently about how we make the COVID-19 vaccine as accessible as possible for the communities we serve; we’re grateful to the team at Cabot Circus for making this Clinic possible. Cases of COVID-19 in our area remain high. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and the people you love from COVID-19.”

An up to date list of all the walk-in clinics in BNSSG along with options for booking a vaccination appointment can be found at www.grabajab.net.


Final Day of Vaccinations at Ashton Gate Stadium

On 4 August 2021, after delivering 235,048 COVID-19 vaccinations, the Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre closed, with all appointments after Wednesday 4 August moving to the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol. The move is prompted by the reduction in vaccination capacity at Ashton Gate as Lockdown eases and the stadium prepares for the full return of fans in August. It coincides with the next phase of the Vaccination Programme which will be focused on second doses and gives us flexibility to plan for the future of the Programme.

People affected have been contacted by a text message from the National Booking Service (NBS) letting them know that the location of their appointment has changed. There is no need to contact the NHS about their appointment. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause some people. While we would encourage people to attend the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol, if possible, if the change of location is unsuitable, people can amend their first or second appointment by logging into the National Booking Service and selecting ‘manage my booking’. Alternatively, they can call 119 or an up to date list of all the walk-in clinics in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) can be found at www.grabajab.net.

Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre opened on 11 January as the UK’s first Mass Vaccination Centre. Sitting alongside 19 GP-led clinics, 15 community pharmacies vaccination sites and 2 hospital hubs (now closed), the Centre has contributed BNSSG’s strong uptake, with vaccinations in the area higher than the national average across all age groups.

Key facts

  • 3 days to transform the Ashton Gate Stadium South Concourse into a Large Scale Vaccination Centre
  • 235,048 vaccinations given
  • 307 staff and 800 volunteers
  • 19 Ashton Gate staff members transferred to work at the Vaccination Centre
  • On 31 July kept the Vaccination Centre running alongside an Aston Villa football game with 7,500 spectators

Dr Tim Whittlestone, Clinical Lead for the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme in BNSSG, said: “It is a bittersweet moment for our Vaccination Programme as we deliver the final vaccinations at Ashton Gate and fully transition to the large scale Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol. From the outset, the team at Ashton Gate have been fantastic partners. On an optimistic note, the prospect of Ashton Gate fully returning to being an amazing sports facility and events venue reassures us that life will return to normal. On behalf of the Programme, I’d like to thank everyone at the Stadium for their incredible support over the last seven months.”

Mark Kelly, Managing Director, Ashton Gate Stadium, said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to help play such a vital role in the vaccination programme here in the South West. The stadium sits in the heart of its community and when we redeveloped it as a multi-use venue, we could never have imagined what was to unfold. We are thankful we’ve been able to help and wish our newfound friends and colleagues in the NHS the very best.

“We now look forward to the full return fans and guests to the stadium and will continue to support the NHS in any way we can, including the smooth transition of the vaccination centre from Ashton Gate to UWE.”

The Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol is located at the Conference and Exhibition Centre on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus and has a capacity of up to 2,000 vaccinations a day. It has a large free car park and is easily accessible by car from much of BNSSG, while the UWE Bristol Campus is a 15 minute bus journey from central Bristol.


Closure of Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre

As previously announced, on Wednesday 4 August our large scale vaccination centre will move from Ashton Gate Stadium to the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol. All appointments for first and second dose vaccinations after 4 August will move to the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol on the same date, and at the same time.

People affected will be contacted by a text message from the National Booking Service (NBS) letting them know that the location of their appointment has changed. There is no need to contact the NHS about your appointment. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

While we encourage people to attend the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol, if this is not suitable, you can rebook your appointment by logging into the NBS at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination and selecting ‘manage my booking’. Alternatively, you can call 119 to change your appointment or find an up to date list of all the walk-in clinics in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) along with options for rebooking your appointment at www.grabajab.net.

From 4 August, the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol will be the only site in our area able to administer the Moderna vaccine. If you had your first dose of Moderna at Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre and will have difficulty attending your second appointment at due to the change of location, please email bnssg.massvaccination@nhs.net.

The Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol is located at the Conference and Exhibition Centre on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus and has a capacity of up to 2,000 vaccinations a day. It has a large free car park and is easily accessible by car from much of BNSSG, while the UWE Bristol Campus is a 15 minute bus journey from central Bristol.


'Grab a Jab' while you shop at Primark Bristol this weekend

Primark shoppers will be able to grab their COVID-19 vaccination and a bargain at the same time this weekend, with an NHS vaccination clinic taking place inside the clothing retailer’s Bristol Broadmead store.

The Pfizer clinic is open to anyone aged 18 or over having their first vaccination. The clinic will run throughout the store’s opening hours, which are 10am until 6pm on Saturday 17 July and 11am until 4pm on Sunday 18 June. No appointment is needed and full details alongside information about other local walk-in clinics can be found at www.grabajab.net.

The collaboration is a first for both the NHS and Primark, and is part of the local vaccination roll-out’s efforts to make it as easy as possible for young people to have their vaccine around their work and lifestyle commitments. Vaccinators will take over the ground floor fitting rooms, running them as vaccination pods. The NHS expects to vaccinate up to 600 people over the weekend.

Dr Tim Whittlestone, Clinical Lead for the BNSSG Vaccination Programme, said: “We’re really excited to be collaborating with Primark Bristol to offer people in our area the COVID-19 vaccination in a place that is easy for them.

“Throughout the vaccine roll-out, we have challenged ourselves to think differently about how we make the COVID-19 vaccine as accessible as possible for the communities we serve; we’re grateful to the team at Primark for making this possible. Cases of COVID-19 in our area are high and rising. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and the people you love from COVID-19, especially as restrictions lift from Monday.”

Conor Walsh, Director of Sales at Primark UK said: “Wherever we can we try to support important local community initiatives. We’re really pleased that we can play a small part in supporting the work of the NHS by hosting the vaccination clinic in our Bristol store this weekend and make it even easier for people to get their vaccine.”

You can also find an up to date list of all the walk-in clinics in BNSSG along with options for booking your appointment at www.grabajab.net.


Vaccination centre to move from Ashton Gate Stadium to the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol

On 4 August, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire’s (BNSSG) large-scale COVID-19 Vaccination Centre will move from Ashton Gate Stadium to our new Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol.

The move is prompted by the reduction in vaccination capacity at Ashton Gate as lockdown eases and the stadium prepares for the full return of fans in August. The move coincides with the next phase of the Vaccination Programme in which we focus on second doses, and gives us flexibility to plan for the future of the Programme. Vaccinations will continue at Ashton Gate until 4 August and the increased number of walk-in clinics across our area, along with the addition of the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol, means that our vaccination capacity during July will be at a peak for the Programme. Visit www.grabajab.net for a full list of vaccination options.

From 4 August, all existing appointments for first and second dose vaccinations will move to the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol and will take place on the same date, and at the same time. Everyone affected will be contacted by text message from the National Booking Service (NBS). There is no need to contact the NHS about your appointment. While we would encourage people to attend the Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol, if possible, we have lots of appointments available in South Bristol, at GP clinics and Community Pharmacy sites close to Ashton Gate stadium. You can also find an up to date list of all the walk-in clinics in BNSSG along with options for booking your appointment at www.grabajab.net.

The Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol has a large free car park and is easily accessible by car from much of BNSSG, while the UWE Bristol Campus is a 15 minute bus journey from central Bristol. If the change of location is unsuitable, people can amend their first or second appointment by logging into the National Booking Service and selecting ‘manage my booking’. Alternatively, they can call 119.

Dr Tim Whittlestone, Clinical Lead for BNSSG Vaccination Programme, said: “Ashton Gate Stadium has been a flexible and generous partner for our large scale Vaccination Centre and we would not have been able to achieve the strong vaccination uptake in our area without Ashton Gate’s help. On behalf of the Programme, I’d like to thank everyone at the Stadium for their incredible support over the last seven months.

“I’d also like to thank all the staff and volunteers who have supported us at Ashton Gate; they have been phenomenal and we look forward to continuing to work with them at our new Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol or elsewhere in our Vaccination Programme.”

Mark Kelly, Managing Director, Ashton Gate Stadium, said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to help play such a vital role in the vaccination programme here in the South West. The stadium sits in the heart of its community and when we redeveloped it as a multi-use venue, we could never have imagined what was to unfold. We are thankful we’ve been able to help and wish our newfound friends and colleagues in the NHS the very best.

“We now look forward to the full return fans and guests to the stadium and will continue to support the NHS in any way we can, including the smooth transition of the vaccination centre from Ashton Gate to UWE.”

The Vaccination Centre @ UWE Bristol is located at the Conference and Exhibition Centre on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus and has a capacity of up to 2,000 vaccinations a day. It sits alongside our existing vaccination capacity at Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre, GP-clinics, community pharmacies and walk-in clinics in faith and community settings.


Open letter to everyone in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire

To everyone in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG),

We want to share a big thank you for continuing to do everything you can to protect yourselves and your loved ones from Covid-19, as the four week extension to lockdown restrictions is announced. We know that the extension will mean different things to different people, but hope that as a community we can all take measures to keep one another safe.

The Delta variant of the virus is now the dominant strain in our area, and the best way to respond to this change and protect one another is by:

  • Getting vaccinated as soon as you can. We are now offering first dose vaccination appointments to everyone over the age of 18. People over 40 who had their first dose at least 8 weeks ago will soon be able to bring forward their existing appointment from 12 weeks. You can do this directly via the National Booking System or your GP practice will be in touch. Find out more on our website, the National Booking System or by calling 119.
  • Continuing to follow the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ guidance – washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering and observing social distancing.
  • Getting the right Covid test at the right time. Take your twice-weekly rapid Covid-19 tests and report your results. You can take your free tests at work, school, home or at an assisted testing site in Bristol, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you must self-isolate and book a symptomatic test straightaway at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.

As restrictions have lifted, health and care services across our area have become busier. This includes in General Practice, where doctors and practice teams continue to vaccinate thousands of people each week alongside their ordinary work in our communities. Our hospitals and minor injury units are also busier, making it even more important to ‘choose well’ and use the right service for your needs. This includes:

  • Speaking to your pharmacist about very minor summer ailments such as hayfever, coughs or colds.
  • Consulting your GP about health concerns or conditions that won’t go away (GPs continue to provide face to face appointments, as well as offering phone and video consultations).
  • Clicking or calling NHS 111 first if you think you need A&E. The 111 service offers immediate medical advice and if you need urgent help, they can book you into the right service for your needs (please continue to only use A&E or call 999 in the event of serious and life-threatening emergencies).

Thank you for continuing to help us help you – including by treating our hardworking health and care staff with kindness and respect as services become busier. The next section of this letter highlights the further support available to you, including resources for mental health and wellbeing.

Thank you – on behalf of the Executives in Healthier Together

 

Thank you for all you’ve done so far. Here’s how to continue helping us, to help you:

Your mental health and wellbeing is important, and there is support available for you locally:

  • The VITA 24/7 helpline can help you with emotional support. The line connects you with a mental health counsellor and relevant groups in your local area. Call 0800 012 6549 (textphone users should dial 18001 followed by 0800 0126549). Translators are available.
  • The AWP Mental Health 24/7 response line is there for adults or children under the care of AWP and worried about their own or someone else’s mental health: 0300 303 1320
  • SilverCloud is a free online platform offering valuable mental health and wellbeing support.
  • Bump2baby wellbeing helps you find the right support during pregnancy, birth and beyond: bump2babywellbeingguide.org

Shielding has now ended. If you have a medical condition which makes you clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and were asked to shield, there is online guidance available on how to stay safe

If you still feel you require support, please get in touch with your local authority using the contact details below. You can also contact them if you have any other questions or concerns:

  • Bristol: We are Bristol: 0800 694 0184
  • North Somerset: North Somerset Together: 01934 427 437
  • South Gloucestershire: 0800 953 7778

If you are receiving care in your home, including district nurses, therapists and support workers, and need to discuss your needs, please call: 0300 125 6789.

Remember: if you are experiencing domestic abuse, household isolation rules do not apply. You are allowed to leave your home and NextLink can provide support and accommodation. Call 0800 4700 280 (24/7) or go to: nextlinkhousing.co.uk