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:
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.
by Justin Warr
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:
A new Healthier Together survey shows local people’s experience of lockdown and their views on future health and care services. A total of 361 people across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire responded to the survey which is the latest in a regular series known as the Citizens’ Panel.
A series of wide-ranging questions explored people’s latest attitudes to health and care, their lifestyle changes during the coronavirus lockdown, and experience of remote consultations.
Concerns about individuals' and their families’ physical and mental health continue to be high, with the survey showing over half of panellists continue to feel uncertain. Under 44’s reported greater feelings of stress and boredom, while those with long term conditions report stronger negative feelings in almost every case.
In terms of behaviour, around one third of panellists have increased physical activity levels and cooked more regularly in the past three months, but a similar proportion of people also report sleeping less. Around 6 in 10 panellists have made use of at least one health and care service in the past three months.
For those who have used primary care, community care, mental health and outpatient services in the last three months, the main format was via telephone with only 1 in 10 using video. However, for people who have had a remote consultation, levels of satisfaction are high with 7 in 10 people likely to use a remote consultation again in the future.
Topics covered in the full report also include attitudes to ‘remote by default’ consultations, concerns about a second wave of coronavirus, and winter flu vaccinations. A short infographic summary is also available to view.
Two online careers events are planned to showcase opportunities in health and social care in the Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire area.
The first, taking place on Wednesday 12 August, is titled Find Your Purpose: Become a Nurse and will be streamed on Facebook Live at 10am.
It is hosted by the Healthier Together partnership and will include information and discussion on nursing degree programmes now available.
A number of places on nursing programmes will start in September making this a great time to hear from nurses about their own job experiences including tackling the local COVID-19 response. Planned speakers will include registered nurses, student nurses, placement officers, UWE, and a senior nurse.
Click here to reserve your place for 12 August.
The second event, on Tuesday 18 August, is a virtual careers event showcasing all the current and future vacancies available across a wide range of local health and care organisations.
This will focus on providing young people with the information and support they need to start a career journey in health and social care. It will feature speakers from hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries, the apprenticeship service, and community care.
Both events will allow you to hear from staff and employers about exciting roles. You will be able to ask questions, connect with organisations, and build the knowledge you need to progress.
These events are not age limited but will particularly benefit 16 to 24 year olds within the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester region.
Click here to reserve your place for 18 August.
To everyone in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire,
We wrote to you a month ago to thank you for all you had done to support health and social care in our area in the fight against coronavirus.
Now we are approaching the next phase in the Government’s management of the crisis, we wanted to update you on what you can expect from health services over the coming months.
But first, we wanted to reiterate our gratitude; this weekend marks the 72nd anniversary of the NHS and social care, which represents an opportunity for us to pause and reflect on the past four months.
This has been the most challenging period in our NHS’s history. This illness has seen many of us lose loved ones before their time and our thoughts and sympathies are with all who are mourning the loss of friends and family and we will be using the anniversary this weekend to remember those people.
The anniversary is also an opportunity for us to say a resounding ‘thank you’. Not just to our dedicated health and social care staff, who have worked tirelessly in challenging circumstances to fight this pandemic, but also to all other key workers and you, the residents of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Alongside this anniversary, this weekend also marks the most significant relaxation of the rules regarding social distancing and lockdown since the pandemic was declared in March. We thoroughly support the need to reopen services and get our communities thriving again, but the threat from the virus remains.
Please continue to:
Current restrictive measures are causing harm to people’s wellbeing, livelihoods and wider health. We must now find a way to adapt to a new reality, one where society can return to normal as far as possible while also continuing to protect against the spread of the disease.
This week, each of our councils has published a Local Outbreak Management Plan. These plans will be the mechanism by which we anticipate, prevent and respond to local incidents and outbreaks and which enable us all to move forward safely. Links to these plans are included at the back of this letter.
Although the shielding process will be paused in the coming weeks, we recognise many people who had been isolating during this period will continue to need support to get back to normal life. Help and support for people who are shielding will remain in place over the summer but we also urge you to continue to look out for friends and neighbours.
Your Voice and Your Wellbeing
Through our engagement activity, we have heard that more than half of our population is anxious or worried and, as a result we are prioritising mental health and wellbeing support in the coming months. We have also heard that many of you have embraced the opportunity to access health and care services remotely and we will be building on that as services are reinstated.
Re-opening services and changes to care
Already many of the routine and non-urgent health services that were temporarily paused during the lockdown have begun to reopen and over the coming weeks more will be reinstated. We are looking at this carefully, and prioritising the most urgent cases first. However, we can’t simply return to the way services were run before. We now need to work differently to account for the additional pressures of coronavirus.
This means over the coming months you will see changes to the way we work. Your safety is our first priority, and we are working hard to ensure that every health and care setting in our area is well prepared in terms of distancing, protective equipment and other measures. Already there has been greater emphasis on the use of digital tools in healthcare to enable you to get help and advice quickly and remotely, often without the need to attend a physical setting. When you do need to be seen in person, we will ask you to wear a face-covering and you can expect to be treated by clinicians wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
We remain committed to providing you with the highest quality health and care services. However the changes required to maintain safety and protect people from the ongoing threat of coronavirus, means you may now experience longer waits, or the way we manage your condition may be different.
It is important for us all that you continue to look after your health and wellbeing. We have provided further information, signposting and guidance on the back page.
We will continue to share information with you over the coming weeks and months and if you do come into contact with our services we will inform you about any new requirements put in place. We will publish regular updates on the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire website.
We are always keen to hear from you and would encourage anyone with concerns to get in touch using our online contact form.
On Behalf of the Executives in Healthier Together
Bristol: We are Bristol: 0800 694 0184
North Somerset: North Somerset Together: 01934 427 437
South Gloucestershire: 0800 953 7778
Thousands of pieces donated with more requested
Thousands of pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been donated to enhance local supplies for essential workers across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) following a plea by the Regional Mayor Tim Bowles and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) on behalf of local health and care organisations.
More than a hundred local organisations have offered their support and donated the equipment, which will be used in health and care settings in the area including hospitals and care homes.
The items, which include masks, visors, gloves and gowns have been donated by a broad range of organisations including universities, engineering companies, house builders, 3D printing firms, and even hairdressers.
The offers of support come in the wake of a worldwide spike in demand for PPE as frontline services across the globe respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Efforts to build local and national stocks are ongoing and while regular deliveries mean most hospitals and primary care facilities have an adequate supply, additional donations which build local resilience and contingency are now welcome and being put to good use.
So far, more than 125 local organisations have pledged their support with significant contributions ranging from offers of free protective items, to offers to switch production to the manufacture of PPE.
Local donations include:
Across BNSSG, all PPE donations are welcome with IIR-rated fluid-resistant surgical masks, visors and gowns in particularly high demand for health and care workers.
Steve Sandercock, for the Healthier Together partnership, says: “I would like to extend a huge vote of thanks for all these contributions which are making a real difference. It is great to see local organisations stepping up to offer their support and making a practical difference, but also giving us a huge morale boost during this difficult time. Although we have established a good supply of PPE to health and care organisations in the area, the demand for protective equipment remains at an all-time high, so we would like to encourage local businesses and organisations to continue their generous support.”
Regional Mayor Tim Bowles says: “Thank you to the many businesses, large and small, who have come forward to help our region’s incredible frontline health and social care workers. This has always been a region where people and businesses work together to support each other, and this has never been more important than at this time of national need. So if your business is able to help, please do get in touch.”
Chris Hart, of the Faculty of the Environment and Technology at UWE says: "We were very pleased to be able to offer our complete stock of PPE to the NHS as it was quickly realised that frontline healthcare workers needed it urgently. It has been a great morale booster for our staff, who were keen to make a contribution, and I would encourage other businesses and institutions to look at their own stocks, facilities and capacity."
Neil Douglas, Managing Director of Viper Innovations says: “We really appreciate what our local key workers are doing in the community during this crisis and are very pleased to be able to support them in this way. We would like to encourage other local businesses to get involved in helping this cause.”
Alongside the larger contributors, many community and volunteer organisations have also been making and supplying PPE for use across Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire. Potential providers are urged make contact first to find out what items are needed along with specifications, such as material and sizes.
Anyone wanting to contribute to the local PPE appeal should contact email@example.com
Health and care leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have today issued an open letter to everyone across the area. The letter - signed by NHS, council and community organisations – thanks local people for observing the coronavirus advice so far, and urges everyone to continue to follow government guidelines to protect themselves and health and care staff.
Since the pandemic began, local NHS and care services have had to radically change the way they operate, in order to provide care for people in new ways.
Local people have adapted to the new ways of working, with thousands taking up virtual medical appointments that would normally have taken place in person. There have been fewer attendances to emergency departments for minor conditions as more people use the Minor Injury Units and Urgent Treatment centres in Yate, Bristol and Clevedon.
This has led health and care staff across the area to launch a ‘reverse clap’ ahead of tonight’s #ClapForCarers – thanking local people for their support in recent weeks, and for helping to keep them safe by looking after their own health and wellbeing.
Local leaders are clear that while this represents real progress, it remains crucial that people continue to follow guidance – to protect themselves and their local services.
Julia Ross, Joint Healthier Together Lead Executive and Chief Executive of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“We want to thank everyone across our area for following the guidance and using local services responsibly.
It’s clear that coronavirus will be with us for some time yet, and we must keep going – by observing social distancing measures, self-isolating while experiencing symptoms of the virus and practising good hand hygiene. These continue to be the best ways to reduce the spread of the virus, which is critical for population health, as well as ensuring that local services can cope.
In the coming weeks we will be restarting routine services in a way which is safe for patients and staff. The more we control the spread of the virus in the population, the better able we will be to get normal services up and running again.
Cllr Mike Bell, Deputy Leader of North Somerset Council and executive member for adult social care said: “We are hugely grateful to everyone in North Somerset for observing the guidance so far. While our infection rates in the South West are relatively low compared to other parts of the country, there are some areas – namely, in our care homes – where we still face real challenges.
“Reducing the spread of the virus remains vital to protect our most vulnerable residents. We need everyone to stay the course with the guidance, and to continue to get support from the right places.”
The letter sets out a range of support available locally, including community mutual aid for vulnerable groups and where to seek support for mental health concerns. You can read the full letter here.
by Jack Bancroft
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.
A) Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading:
Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.
B) You can only leave your home:
C) What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms
Continue to stay at home if you have either:
To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
D) What to do if you need medical help for another reason:
If you need medical help not related to coronavirus, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
It’s more important than ever that we all get reliable and up-to-date health and care information related to coronavirus. Unfortunately some information online can be wrong, either maliciously or by accident. This false information can spread quickly, for example people sharing health advice on social media without stopping to check whether the source is authentic.
This can be further complicated by the large volume of information available to us all, and how frequently it gets updated which is often daily. With so much information about coronavirus being broadcast on TV, radio, in the newspapers and online we have compiled a list of some local partners in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire you can trust.
All of these organisations have an online presence, and you can click on the list below to go straight to their websites. Some have social media accounts too, and in the case of twitter you will often find an official ‘verified by twitter’ blue tick next to a twitter ‘handle’ (or name, beginning with the @ sign eg @HTBNSSG). This will give you extra confidence that theirs is an officially recognised account.
It’s important that we all get the latest and most accurate health and care information. Here's the list:
Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
Bristol City Council
BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group
North Bristol NHS Trust
North Somerset Council
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
South Gloucestershire Council
North Somerset Community Partnership
SevernSide Integrated Urgent Care Service
Weston Area Health NHS Trust
Bristol Community Health
Sirona care & health
Important information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)
The NHS in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, and Public Health England (PHE), are well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and NHS staff while also ensuring many services remain available to the public.
The latest information on symptoms of Coronovirus infection can be found at nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
Use this service if:
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone.
Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via coughs and sneezes or hand contact. A person can also catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.
Testing of suspected coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict guidelines. This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals. Any equipment that comes into contact with suspected cases is thoroughly cleaned. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others. Patients can be reassured that their safety is a top priority, and people are encouraged to attend all appointments as directed.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
You can find the latest information and advice at www.gov.uk/coronavirus