Local health and care faces increasing pressure

Health and care leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) are today (Thursday 26th November) urging the public to do everything they can to keep themselves and their communities safe from coronavirus as demand on local services continues to rise.

The local health and care system entered its highest state of alert this week, with all services stretched by the second wave of the pandemic and rising non-Covid pressures - coupled with staff sickness and families needing to self-isolate.

While a range of innovative measures have been introduced - including a brand new ‘home from hospital’ support scheme run in partnership with the local voluntary sector – the public can play a key role by continuing to adhere to Hands, Face, Space guidance and using services appropriately.

Dr Jon Hayes, a GP in Hanham and Chair of the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

‘We know our area has been hit much harder during the second wave of the pandemic than the first, and this is putting our health and care system under considerable strain.

Our dedicated staff are working together in new ways to keep services up and running, and their contribution continues to be immense. Support from the public is vital too. The NHS is very much open, but we need people to use services appropriately.

That includes thinking 111 first for urgent medical care, and using our new 24/7 support line if you have mental health concerns. It’s important for both you and the NHS that we get people to the right care first time. People should also look out for their vulnerable loved ones and neighbours to keep them well closer to home.

We have an extraordinary community spirit across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, and the best way for us to get through this challenging time is by working together. ‘

The fresh plea comes as a brand new ‘Home from Hospital’ service launched this week. Organisations including the British Red Cross, We Care & Repair and the Home from Hospital Partnership are working collaboratively to provide non-medical support for people returning home after a hospital stay. People over 65 who have been in hospital overnight - and who do not already have ongoing support in place from community health or adult social care - can expect a wellbeing call from the British Red Cross no later than 48hrs after they have returned home.

A local 24/7 telephone support line has also been launched.  Anyone who is concerned about their own or someone else’s mental health can call 0800 0126 549 and speak to qualified staff for emotional support.  The counsellors can provide one off support for people experiencing difficulties with their mood or emotions, and who require immediate support when their situation is not life threatening.

People can continue to contact their local authority helplines for help with non-medical issues such as shopping and prescription collection if they are vulnerable or isolating:

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

NHS calls on people and communities to do their bit in the fight against coronavirus

NHS and Council leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are today (12 November) urging people to support stretched services as local coronavirus cases rise – by looking out for vulnerable loved ones, and being ready to collect relatives from hospital as soon as they are medically well enough to leave.

Local health and care leaders say that extra help to avoid hospital admissions and get people home, or to another community setting, sooner could make a big difference - for those receiving care and services facing pressure.

Cathy Daffada, one of three Access and Flow Leads for Sirona care & health, whose role is focused on supporting people to leave hospital as soon as they are safe to do so, said:

“The rising number of coronavirus cases locally, combined with the onset of the usual winter pressures, means our hospitals and community services are stretched.

“While we have strong processes in place to manage the increase in demand, we’re calling on the public to help too.

“There’s an exceptionally strong community spirit in our area. People have been doing a phenomenal job throughout the pandemic in looking out for neighbours, relatives, and the frail and elderly.

“As we see a resurgence of coronavirus, we’re asking people to keep this going. Check on what clinically vulnerable relatives might need to stay well at home, and be ready to collect your loved ones from hospital as soon as they are medically fit to leave.

“In many cases, your best bed is your own in terms of recovery and retaining independence. It’s more important than ever that our hospital beds are available for those who really need them.”

Healthier Together – the partnership representing 10 organisations across BNSSG, including NHS Trusts and local authorities – recently put a range of additional measures in place to alleviate pressure on health and care services, including restarting a telephone support service to reduce hospital admissions and additional support for care homes.

A new communications campaign will launch across the area’s health and care settings this week, reminding family and friends of what they can do to support their loved ones and local services.


Open Letter from Healthier Together Executives

To everyone in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire,

Thank you for doing everything you can to keep yourselves and each other safe.

We want to thank you again for doing everything you can to protect yourselves and our communities from coronavirus, and update you on some key changes following the second national lockdown which began last week.

Our hospitals are seeing high demand, and we have had to cancel a number of non-urgent routine procedures and outpatient appointments as a result. We are very sorry if you are one of the individuals affected. This is an exceptional step we have taken to manage demand on services as coronavirus cases increase.

We have strong plans in place to manage the pressure on services, and we need everyone to continue to do their bit. Please:

  • Observe social distancing and maintain regular hand-washing.
  • Wear face-coverings in all health and care settings and anywhere else you need to, for example shops and on public transport.
  • Check-in on and support high-risk family members where you can. Your support can make a huge difference.
  • Ensure you are able to collect relatives from hospital as soon as they are medically well enough to be discharged.
  • Attend your appointments on time - being early may mean having to wait outside.
  • Do not come to see us in person if you have coronavirus symptoms. If you have a booked appointment, call the service and they will support you with next steps.

While we are entering another challenging time, the NHS and care services are still very much open – please do not ignore or put aside any concerns. You can:

  • Use 111 to access urgent medical advice when you’re not sure what to do.
  • Contact your GP (doctors) surgery. GPs continue to provide face to face appointments, as well as offering thousands of online and telephone appointments a week.
  • Use your local pharmacy. Pharmacists can offer a range of support for minor conditions, including prescribing some medicines.
  • Use the Minor Injuries Units in Yate and Clevedon, and the Urgent Treatment Centre in South Bristol for sprains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds.
  • Use A&E or call 999 only in the event of medical emergencies.
  • Let us know if you can no longer attend an appointment.
  • Contact your local council or care provider if you have any concerns about social care.

Some changes have also been made to visiting arrangements across our services to keep you and your loved ones safe. Please check the website of the place you are visiting.

We know it’s a challenging time. Our teams are working hard to support you, and while you may be more anxious and concerned than usual, please treat the staff caring for you with kindness and respect. It’s important that we all continue to support each other.

Thank you – on behalf of the Executives in Healthier Together

 

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

  • If you start to experience any coronavirus symptoms, including a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste, you should book a test as soon as possible. You can also get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms.
  • Tests can be booked at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119. You can order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site. If you’re getting a test because you have symptoms, you and anyone you live with must self-isolate until you get your result. This also applies to anyone in your support bubble (where someone who lives alone, or just with their children, can meet people from one other household).
  • Having flu and coronavirus at the same time more than doubles the chances of people dying from coronavirus. The flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect yourself against catching flu. If you are in an eligible priority group you can access a flu vaccine free through your GP practice or pharmacy. If you’re unable to get an immediate appointment, please keep trying or book in for a later date.
  • Your health and mental 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: https://bnssg.silvercloudhealth.com/onboard/
  • Bump2baby wellbeing helps you find the right support during pregnancy, birth and beyond: bump2babywellbeingguide.org
  • If you’ve been notified that you that you have a medical condition which makes you clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, please register your details at the following website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support

You can use this service to get access to priority supermarket deliveries or ask for someone to contact you about other local support.

  • If this does not apply to you but 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: www.nextlinkhousing.co.uk

 

Read the open Letter in Farsi

Read the open letter in Arabic

Read the open letter in Punjabi

Read the open letter in Bengali

Read the open letter in Cantonese

Read the open letter in Albanian

Read the open letter in Mandarin

Read the open letter in Pashto

Read the open letter in Somali

Read the open letter in Sorani

Read the open letter in Tigrinya

Read the open letter in Turkish

Read the open letter in LARGE TEXT


New national lockdown: advice and information

As announced by the Prime Minister on 31 October 2020, there will be a new national lockdown commencing from Thursday 5 November in response to a rise in cases of coronavirus.

For now, please continue to attend appointments as advised. You don’t need to call to check that a booked appointment is going ahead. We will be in touch if anything changes with your care.

If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, please use the government portal to book a test. It is important that you and anyone you live with continue to self-isolate until you get a test result. You can find more information, support and guidance on testing here.

  • Think Hands, Face, Space - washing your hands regularly, using a face mask in areas where social distancing is difficult, and keeping 2 metres’ space between you and others will all help to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • If you have a continuous cough or fever, self-isolate and contact 111 if you need further advice or help.
  • If you need medical help, please contact your registered GP practice or 111. Support can be accessed online at 111.nhs.uk or you can call 111 for free form your landline or phone.
  • The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership wellbeing line is open 24 hours a day for mental health and emotional wellbeing support: 0300 303 1320.
  • Please only call 999 in the event of a medical emergency. Only go to A&E if you experience a medical emergency or if 111 or your GP has advised you to do so.
  • For minor injuries, the Minor Injury Units in Yate and Clevedon and Urgent Treatment Centre in South Bristol are open between 8am and 8pm. For minor illnesses, please contact your GP practice.
  • 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.
  • If you are self-isolating or require additional support, contact the following numbers to be put in touch with local groups who can help with fetching shopping, medication and other essentials supplies, as well as other mutual aid:
    • Bristol: We are Bristol: 0800 694 0184
    • North Somerset: North Somerset Together: 01934 427 437
    • South Gloucestershire: 0800 953 7778

Read this article in Albanian      Read this article in Arabic      Read this article in Bengali

Read this article in Cantonese      Read this article in Farsi      Read this article in Mandarin

Read this article in Pashto      Read this article in Punjabi      Read this article in Sorani

Read this article in Tigrinya      Read this article in Turkish      Read this article in Urdu


Local health and care leaders take action in response to rise in coronavirus cases

Health and care leaders in BNSSG are bringing in additional support measures from Monday (2 November) to ensure that local services are better able to cope with increasing demand as a result of the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

The measures - designed to protect people and make best use of resources across the health and care system – include:

  • Faster discharge for all hospital admissions, ensuring that people leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to do so. Community support will be available to ensure this takes place safely.
  • Enhanced mutual aid support between organisations, allowing staff to work more flexibly across settings and where resource is most needed.
  • Restarting a telephone support service to help avoid hospital admissions.

There will also be further wraparound support available for the area’s care homes.

The Healthier Together Partnership – made up of 10 organisations including NHS and Local Authorities – outlined the approach in a message to 42,000 health and care staff earlier today.

Evelyn Barker, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive at North Bristol NHS Trust, said:

"We are seeing a significant rise in coronavirus cases locally, and this is resulting in greater demand on services. If the virus continues to spread at this rate, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain our routine non-Covid services, which is why we are taking additional action now.

"The public can do their bit by using the most appropriate service for their needs – whether that’s their local GP practice, Minor Injuries Unit, Urgent Treatment Centre or pharmacy - and avoiding A&E unless absolutely necessary.

"Families can also play their part by supporting their loved ones to return to their home or other community setting as soon as they are ready to leave hospital."

Christina Gray, Director of Public Health for Bristol City Council, said:

“We are seeing significant pressure on our health and care system with increasing numbers of people in hospital or being cared for with severe coronavirus symptoms. Our health and care colleagues continue to do a fantastic job in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, putting themselves at risk as they do so.

"We must all now step up our efforts to support them. We can do this by helping drive down the spread of the virus by limiting the amount of people we socialise with, wear a mask when needed, regularly wash hands and keep at least two metres from those we don’t live with.

“If you start to experience symptoms, including a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste, you must book a test and you, and anyone you live with, must self-isolate until you get your test result. We have increased the number of tests available so it should be much easier for people to book. You must also isolate as soon as possible if you are a contact of someone who tests positive, even if you don’t have symptoms. This is vital.

“We all must play our part in protecting the NHS, and ensuring that life-saving services are available for those who really need them.”

A new video, featuring local staff has also been created to help people understand what to expect when they visit health and care settings across the area. It includes the latest information on infection prevention control and digital access – as well as setting out what people need to do before they arrive for in-person appointments.


Keeping everyone safe

A short film has been released showing how local health and care organisations are working to keep settings safe for people across Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire. The film is a collaboration between ten organisations which make up the Healthier Together partnership.

It is a response to local research from our Citizens' Panel which shows that during the coronavirus pandemic people have grown more concerned about visiting health and care settings, from Minor Injury Units to hospitals, to seek the advice and treatment they need.

In the film, health and care staff outline some of the precautions being taken to keep patients, visitors, and staff as safe as possible.  This ranges from 'Hands Face Space' rules to video consultations and perspex screens in reception areas.

The film also outlines options available to get timely help without resorting to visiting Accident & Emergency (also known as the Emergency Department) unless it is necessary.  Help can range from seeking advice at a local pharmacy to ringing NHS111 or going online for assistance.

A comprehensive risk assessment was adopted in the making of this film, so everyone including the film-maker followed strict instructions around the use of PPE, hand sanitiser, masks, distancing, the cleaning of equipment, travel, and working in enclosed spaces.

This is the film:

 


COVID-19: Getting a Test

Get a free NHS test today to check if you have coronavirus

This information is correct when published on 22 September 2020.  For latest updates please go to the NHS website.

You can have a test (swab test) to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) now. You can choose to take the test:

  • at a test site near you today
  • with a home test kit

This service is for people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Information: There is another test, the antibody test to check if you've had coronavirus. This is available on the NHS for some people.

Who can get a test

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a test.

Coronavirus symptoms are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

You can get a test for someone you live with if they have these symptoms. Do not get tests for people you live with who do not have these symptoms.

If you're asked to get a test

You can also get a test if:

  • you live in England and have been told to have a test before you go into hospital, for example, for surgery
  • your local council asks you to get a test
  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project

Important

Only get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get tested.

Do not use this service to get a test in order to travel to another country. You can pay for a private test.

This will help make sure people who need a test can get one.

When to get a test

Information: If you have symptoms, get a test as soon as possible. You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

Book a visit to a test site to have the test today. Or order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.

On days 1 to 4 of your symptoms, you can get tested at a site or at home. If you're ordering a home test kit on day 4, do it by 3pm.

On day 5, you need to go to a test site. It's too late to order a home test kit.

If you are not able to get a test in the first 5 days of having symptoms, you and anyone you live with must stay at home (self-isolate). Anyone in your support bubble must also stay at home.

Get a test now

Important

This service is currently very busy. If you cannot get a test now, or the location or time are not convenient, try again in a few hours.

Get a test online on GOV.UK.

Start now on the GOV.UK website or call 119 to get a test if you have problems using the internet.

Information: If no tests are available online, do not call the helpline to get a test. No extra tests are available through the helpline.

Stay at home if you have symptoms

If you are getting a test because you have symptoms, you and anyone you live with must stay at home until you get your result.

Anyone in your support bubble must also stay at home.

What the test involves

The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.

You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Parents or guardians have to swab test children aged 11 or under.

Getting a test for someone else

If other people you live with have symptoms, you can order tests for up to 3 of them.

If you're applying for a test for someone else, and the person is aged 13 or over, check they're happy for you to get a test for them.

Urgent advice: If you need medical advice about your symptoms, go to:

Call 999 if you feel very unwell or think there's something seriously wrong.

Need help with getting a test?

If you're having problems getting a test, see answers to common questions about asking for a coronavirus test.


COVID-19: Health and care leaders update on local progress

An open letter outlining some of the progress made in re-starting local services has been issued by health and care leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The letter, which is signed by NHS, council and community organisations, recognises developments across a range of services from online GP appointments to home visits, community services, and hospital wards.

Despite this progress, enhanced safety precautions due to coronavirus mean there are fewer hospital beds available due to the need for extra spacing, and waiting lists for some routine procedures are likely to be longer as more time is needed for equipment deep cleaning and for staff PPE changes.

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

“Many health and care services have now re-started and our aim is to get these services back to their pre-pandemic levels ahead of winter. The challenge is doing this in a way which keeps everyone safe.

“Keeping a lid on coronavirus is crucial in getting services working as we would like, especially looking ahead to the winter period which is traditionally a challenging time for the NHS and our partners.

“I would like to reassure people that we can and should continue to access local health and care services following the guidance provided; whether it is keeping socially distanced, wearing facemasks as directed, or good hand hygiene.”

The full open letter shares details of local services which have restarted and also references this winter’s ‘flu programme. Download the full letter below in your preferred language.

Download a copy of the open letter in English

Download a copy of the open letter in Urdu

Download a copy of the open letter in Punjabi

Download a copy of the open letter in Somali

Download a copy of the open letter in Polish

Download a copy of the open letter in Cantonese

Download a copy of the open letter in Bengali

Download a copy of the open letter in Arabic

Download an Easyread version of the open letter


Hands. Face. Space.

With winter fast approaching, the ‘Hands. Face. Space’ campaign urges us all to continue washing our hands, cover our faces and make space to control infection rates and help avoid a second peak.

The spread of coronavirus, particularly in enclosed spaces is shown in a new film, produced with experts in the field, which highlights the risk in our simple, everyday interactions.

This is the new film.