Health and care services are ‘here for you’ throughout the Jubilee bank holiday weekend

‘We’re here for you’ - that’s the message from health and care services ahead of the Jubilee bank holiday celebrations (Thursday, 2 June to Sunday, 5 June) as they remind local people that many health and care services will remain open over the long weekend.Read more


Local health and care system steps up contingency plans

Friday 7 January 2022: The health and social care system in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) is stepping-up contingency plans to deal with the current wave of Covid-19 alongside intense winter pressures.

The number of people being treated in hospital for Covid-19 has more than doubled in just two weeks and is expected to reach a peak in the weeks ahead, which is also increasing demand for social care support. With increasing numbers of staff off sick or isolating, clinical leaders across all services are taking action to ensure the continuation of safe and effective care.

The local health and social care system remains at its highest state of alert, with significant pressure on all services. Actions being taken include:

  • Postponing a number of non-urgent appointments and procedures to prioritise treatment for the most important and urgent cases - in community settings, GP practices and acute hospitals. People affected will be notified directly if they are affected by the changes.
  • Prioritising the most urgent community visits and asking some people to self-manage their conditions where they can.
  • Expanding the ‘pulse oximetry at home’ service – an innovative development which allows for remote monitoring of people’s oxygen levels, relieving pressure on busy hospitals.
  • Temporarily moving some staff to support core services.
  • Temporarily suspending visiting in some ward settings to maintain the safety of patients and staff and limit the spread of infection. Each setting is different in how its wards and waiting areas are set up; and any changes will be based on clinical risk.
  • Starting construction of the temporary Nightingale Covid-19 surge hub in the grounds at Southmead Hospital, which could care for up to 100 patients if needed.
  • Redoubling our efforts to vaccinate people, which is the proven best way to protect against serious illness.
  • Adult Social Care services are prioritising hospital discharges, so people living at home may have to wait for an assessment of their needs.
  • Social Care is also being prioritised for people with no family or friend networks

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

“With Covid rates very high, we’re seeing sharp increase in staff sickness and people needing hospital care. This means we’re extremely busy and taking additional steps to limit the spread of infection, keep people safe, and make sure we can provide the treatment that people need.

“We are urging everyone to get boosted now, use services wisely and support friends and family in hospital to be discharged promptly.

Staff across health and social care are going to incredible lengths in the most challenging circumstances right now – we are asking the public to continue to treat them with kindness and respect.”

The public are asked to:

  • Protect yourself – get vaccinated against Covid-19 and flu. You can find all the details you need at www.grabajab.net
  • Click or call 111 first for all urgent but non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses, rather than visiting busy emergency departments and minor injuries units. You can also call your GP in the day.
  • Use your local pharmacy – they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains. Pharmacies are open throughout the day, evening and on weekends and you can be seen without an appointment.
  • Help look out for your community – check in on relatives and neighbours who might need extra support and be ready to collect loved ones from hospital as soon as they are medically well enough to leave. We all appreciate how families and friends are providing additional care for each other at this difficult time; and are thankful for the flexibility being shown in times services are received.
  • Check the latest guidance on visiting loved ones at the health setting you are attending before you set off – increasing rates of Omicron mean that some settings have had to change their arrangements.

Fresh recruitment campaign calls on residents to join the ‘Proud to Care’ movement

A new ‘Proud to Care’ campaign has launched in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire this week.

The campaign aims to attract a range of people into caring careers. Using stories and testimony from carers, the campaign will raise the profile of social care, its values and rewards – and encourage more people to join this life-changing sector.

The local health and care workforce is made up of around 58, 000 people. A significant proportion (27%) of these are in care roles. Currently, there are around 1,500 local care worker vacancies – something the campaign hopes to change by challenging negative perceptions and highlighting just how rewarding social care careers can be.

No specific qualifications or experience are needed to start a career in care and people of any working age are welcome. However, care work can offer real benefits for:

  • Students – who may be looking for part-time evening and weekend work to fit around their studies, or for practical experience to support a social care or healthcare qualification.
  • Parents or carers with young children – who may be looking for flexible, local work to fit around their own caring responsibilities.
  • Career changers – who may be looking for something new, where they can work directly with people and have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives.

A huge variety of roles are on offer in a range of settings - supporting older people, disabled people and people with learning disabilities. Typical tasks include providing personal care, assisting with jobs in the home, getting people involved in social activities, and helping people access services in their community that keep them well and independent at home for longer. Training and support is available for all new starters to build the skills they need.

Lizzy Trevarthen, a community care worker for older people in North Somerset said:

"My favourite part of the job is getting to know the people I help on a deeper level, so that when I visit them, it doesn't really feel like I'm working, more that I’m helping a friend.

I love waking up every day and not feeling the dread of work. I also love the team I'm a part of as I've never met such caring, friendly people who look after their employees so well. I'm a very practical person and like to be on the go. In my role, I feel like I have a lot of freedom as I'm not tied down to one building."

Karin Brownlie, Registered Manager at Frenchay House Able Care Home said:

"I love coming to work as every day is different and full of new challenges. It is a joy to visit all my residents each day and have a chat with them, as they are full of fantastic memories and stories. I have a really supportive and fabulous team; we are like a big family unit.

I also feel that I am actively making a difference to the lives of our residents and giving them the very best opportunity to live out their last years in comfort and safety. There is no other job that gives you better satisfaction than one in care."

A new Proud to Care recruitment website has been launched to support the campaign. All vacancies with councils in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire can be found at www.beproudtocare.co.uk

Julia Ross, Co-Executive Lead for Healthier Together and Chief Executive of NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Social care staff play a hugely valuable role in people’s lives, and their contribution to a safe and effective health and care system is also significant.

“We know there will be many people out there at the moment reconsidering their options as a result of the pandemic – perhaps looking for more fulfilling work where they can make a direct impact on people’s lives or thinking about sectors which offer greater flexibility. There will also be people with transferable and relevant skills, perhaps through supporting their own loved ones at home.

“We are asking those people to consider the care sector and make a difference for people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.”

If you, or anybody you know, are able support care in your community, please visit the Proud to Care recruitment website: www.beproudtocare.co.uk


Funding awarded to help home COPD management

Supported by the West of England AHSN, the health system in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) has been awarded funding from NHSX's Digital Health Partnership Award to roll-out the myCOPD app alongside digital health champions to support patients with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

myCOPD provides guides on self-management, how and when to take medication, pulmonary rehabilitation and more, to help patients to recover and manage their condition effectively at home.

Roll-out of the app within the BNSSG area will start in December 2021, expanding to further areas throughout 2022.

Find out more about the myCOPD app.

Find out more about the Digital Health Partnership Award funding.


National first as relationship between Academic Health Science Centre and local Integrated Care System is confirmed

Bristol Health Partners is the first Academic Health Science Centre (ASHC) in England to develop a fully integrated relationship with the Healthier Together Integrated Care System (ICS) for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG), a decision which was approved at a Healthier Together Partnership Board meeting on 8 July.

This new structure aims to make best use of the academic research, implementation and evaluation activities that Bristol Health Partners undertakes to support the work of the ICS.

This will mean close joint working of researchers with patients and healthcare professionals to agree what works best to improve health and care across BNSSG. That could include recommending new technologies that can better support patients or helping to measure whether changes to services are working for patients and practitioners.

The BNSSG area has world-leading researchers on topics as far ranging as vaccines, healthy childhoods, mental health, cardiovascular disease and responsible use of data. Researchers are able to bring the latest evidence of what works, new ideas and funding to work on the health and care issues that matter most to local people.

Both Healthier Together and the Bristol Health Partners AHSC want the local population to benefit from this expertise in an ever-expanding number of health and care areas.

Experience of Covid has shown that connecting researchers with people who plan and deliver health and care services helps make safer, higher quality decisions.

This new partnership will mean that more local patients will benefit from a health and care system that learns from the very best evidence from around the world.

Professor David Wynick, Director of Bristol Health Partners AHSC, said:

“We are the first AHSC to have developed this very close formal relationship with our ICS and we are excited about the opportunities it presents. We hope it will lead to the delivery of world-class health, clinical and economic outcomes through improved prevention of illness and disease and better integration of health and care services in our region.”

Robert Woolley and Julia Ross, Chief Executives at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group respectively; and executive co-leads of Healthier Together, said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Bristol Health Partners AHSC and be the first area in the country to formalise this arrangement.

“Our area has considerable strength in health research and this partnership can only further integrate this research into the delivery of our services and development of our dedicated health and care workers.

“This is an exciting opportunity, and we look forward to developing this relationship further to ensure sustainable, high quality care for everyone in BNSSG.”

The membership of the new Research & Innovation Steering Group of the BNSSG ICS includes directors of research, clinical strategy, public health, social care, senior innovation leaders and education from our core funding partners. It also includes public contributors and senior representatives from primary care, NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West, NIHR Clinical Research Network West of England, West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN), Healthier Together ICS, university research institutes and People in Health West of England.


Last chance to have your say on proposed changes to stroke services

Health leaders are calling for local people to share their views on proposed changes to stroke services with the public consultation closing on 3 September.

The proposals to change the way hospital stroke services are organised and delivered in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have been open for public consultation since 7 June. They have been designed to ensure fewer stroke deaths every year and improve long-term health outcomes for survivors.

Dr Chris Burton, Clinical Lead for the programme, said:

“Stroke is a serious condition, and one of the UK’s biggest killers. Locally, 1500 people have a stroke each year and one in 50 of our population live with the long-term effects.

“We’ve been developing proposals for change that will ensure everyone in our area has the best possible opportunity to survive and thrive after stroke, and now need the public to tell us their views.

“We’ve had lots of valuable feedback during the consultation so far and are really pleased with the many individuals, groups and local organisations that have had their say.

“I encourage anyone with an interest in stroke to find out more about our proposals, join our final online listening event on 26 August and fill in our survey before the consultation closes on 3 September.”

Proposed changes to stroke services include:

  • Improvements to emergency treatment, meaning everyone in the area would have their initial stroke treatment in a Hyper-Acute Stroke Unit at Southmead Hospital.
  • Improvements to ongoing hospital treatment and care, with everyone receiving care at an Acute Stroke Unit. This could be through one unit at Southmead Hospital, or with two units – one at Southmead Hospital and a further unit at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.
  • Improvements to in-patient rehabilitation services, allowing people who need further rehab support before going home to receive it in a specialist Stroke Sub-Acute Rehabilitation Unit. One unit is being proposed on the Weston General Hospital site and the location of a second unit, that serves Bristol and South Gloucestershire, is being consulted on.

An online consultation event is taking place on Thursday 26 August from 12pm to give local people an opportunity learn more about the proposals, ask questions of clinicians and provide feedback.

To sign up to the event, find out more about the proposals or have your say, visit our stroke consultation web pages or call 0117 900 3432.

The consultation on Improving Stroke Services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire will close at 12pm on 3 September.


Public urged to 'have your say' on stroke services at new series of drop-in events

A series of drop-in events across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have been arranged to hear views on proposals to improve stroke services across the area.

The consultation on proposals to change the way hospital stroke services are organised and delivered in the area has been running since 7 June and will close on 3 September.

The drop-in sessions will be open for three hours each and provide an opportunity to talk to clinical experts in person, ask questions and share views on the proposals.

Three events have been arranged across the area:

  • Wednesday 21 July from 5.30pm to 8.30pm – Future Inn, Bristol
  • Thursday 29 July from 10am to 1pm - Winter Gardens, Weston-super-Mare
  • Wednesday 4 August from 2pm to 5pm – St Michaels Centre, Stoke Gifford

Dr Chris Burton, Clinical Lead for the programme, said:

“Over 1500 people in our area have a stroke every year, that’s 5 people every day. A stroke can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time and can lead to life changing disability for many survivors.

“We want to ensure that everyone in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire has access to the latest treatment and care and that’s why we are making proposals for change. We’re hosting a series of face-to-face drop-in sessions for local people to find out what the proposed changes mean for them and their local area.

“We really want to hear what people think, and encourage everyone to have their say during the consultation period.”

Proposals include:

-         Improvements to emergency treatment, meaning everyone in the area would have their initial stroke treatment in a Hyper-Acute Stroke Unit at Southmead Hospital.

-         Improvements to ongoing hospital treatment and care, with everyone receiving care at an Acute Stroke Unit. This could be through one unit at Southmead Hospital, or with two units – one at Southmead Hospital and a further unit at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

-         Improvements to in-patient rehabilitation services, allowing people who need further rehab support before going home to receive it in a specialist Stroke Sub-Acute Rehabilitation Unit. One unit is being proposed on the Weston General Hospital site and the location of a second unit, that serves Bristol and South Gloucestershire, is being consulted on.

To find out more information about the proposals and events or have your say, visit our stroke consultation page.


Open letter: Easing of national lockdown restrictions

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

On the day that government lifts the final national lockdown restrictions, we want to thank you for continuing to do your bit to keep our communities safe and stop the spread of Covid-19.

When the pandemic began, none of us could have imagined the impact it would have on our lives and those of our families, communities and loved ones. Yet by pulling together, following national public health guidance and taking up the vaccination when offered, we will be able to recover from this period in our history.

As we enter this new phase, it’s important to recognise that both Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are rising in our area, and the threat from the virus remains significant. There are a number of things you can do to help.

Firstly, please remember that face coverings remain compulsory in all our health and care settings. Whether you’re attending a hospital appointment, getting vaccinated, visiting your local GP surgery or attending one of our Minor Injury Units – you will be required to wear a face covering to keep yourself, our staff and other people safe.

Secondly, if you are not yet vaccinated against Covid-19, please book your first dose appointment as soon as you can, or attend one of our many walk-in clinics. If you’re waiting to have your second dose, remember you can now receive this just 8 weeks after the first. Again, you can attend a walk-in clinic for this, or just go online or dial 119 to bring your second dose appointment forward. Every day or week counts. As everyone over the age of 18 is now eligible to be vaccinated, we are working together to make it as easy as possible for you to get protected.

Finally, when talking to our health and care staff, please remember that the lifting of restrictions doesn’t mean all the pressures of Covid-19 have gone away. Our hospitals, community services and GP practices remain extremely busy, and it’s as vital as ever that you ‘help us to help you’ by using the right service for your needs. When using services, please remember to be kind, even though you might need to wait longer than usual to speak to someone or make an appointment.

Now more than ever, it is down to us to take what steps we can to look after others, and ourselves, recognising that we all have a responsibility to care for each other and protect the most vulnerable. That’s why we are asking you and everyone in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire to do what you can do – not just what you have to do – to help keep everyone safe from the virus.

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

If you have a medical condition which makes you clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and were previously 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.

To find out if you’re at risk from Covid-19, download the NHS Covid-19 App. If you're told to self-isolate (stay at home) by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS Covid-19 app please follow the given instructions to help protect your loved ones and the community.

However, if you are experiencing domestic abuse, 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


Shoppers 'Grab a jab' at Primark in Bristol

Today, Primark shoppers in Bristol have been queuing up to grab their COVID-19 vaccination and amazing fashion at amazing prices at the same time. In a first for both the fashion retailer and the NHS, the walk-in vaccination clinic is taking place inside the Primark Bristol store.

The NHS team from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) has transformed Primark Bristol’s Ground Floor fitting rooms into eight vaccination pods.

By lunchtime, the first dose Pfizer clinic had vaccinated over 100 people and the NHS team can vaccinate up to 600 people over the weekend.

  • Laura Simpkins from Bristol, said: “They made me feel so at ease and I recommend everyone to get it…I know you’re nervous, but it’s a piece of cake…look at me!”
  • Alexandria Smith, 28, said: “It made a real difference being able to come to Primark.”
  • Andrea Maria Brighenti, 23, said: “It was really easy – having the clinic in Primark was a great idea.”

The Primark Bristol vaccination clinic is running, again, tomorrow - Sunday 18 July from 11am until 4pm. No appointment is needed and full details, plus information about other local walk-in clinics can be found at www.grabajab.net.

The clinic is offering first doses of Pfizer vaccine to anyone aged 18 or over. The collaboration 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 work and lifestyle commitments.

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.”