COVID-19: Thank you and next steps for health and care

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:

  • Observe social distancing
  • Maintain regular hand-washing
  • Wear face-coverings in all health and care settings to protect you and those around you

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.

Thank you

On Behalf of the Executives in Healthier Together



Here’s how to continue helping us, to help you

  • Follow government advice:
    • observe social distancing (where possible stay 2 metres apart and always aim to maintain the 1 metre plus rule)
    • wash your hands regularly
    • use the hand sanitiser provided in shops and other public settings
    • don’t touch your face
    • wear a face covering in all healthcare settings and on public transport, as well as areas where social distancing is difficult
  • If you have a continuous cough or fever, or unusually lose your sense of taste or smell then self-isolate and call 111 if you need further advice or help.
  • Don’t sit and worry – ring 111 for medical help or contact the wellbeing support line run by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership on 0300 303 1320.
  • If you need medical help, call your registered GP practice or ring 111.
  • Call 999 for all medical emergencies.
  • 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 or visit a pharmacy.
  • 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.
  • Only go to A&E if you experience a medical emergency or if 111 or your GP has advised you to do so.
  • As rules around shielding are relaxed in the coming weeks, please continue to look out for friends and neighbours.
  • Read more about the local Outbreak Management Plans for Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.
  • There is helpful advice on how to keep well while shielding on the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG website.
  • If you are isolating or require additional support, you can continue to contact contact the following numbers for community support:

Bristol:  We are Bristol: 0800 694 0184

North Somerset: North Somerset Together: 01934 427 437

South Gloucestershire: 0800 953 7778

Local organisations rally to provide Personal Protective Equipment for frontline staff

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:

  • 8,700 examination gloves, 1,400 aprons and other equipment including face visor manufacture from UWE
  • 7,400 surgical masks and 10,000 N95-rated masks from Viper Innovations
  • 2,000 examination gloves, 500 masks, 50 coveralls, 35 pairs of safety glasses from The Bristol Port Company
  • 1,000 pairs of gloves, 1,000 masks and 8 litres of sanitising hand gel from Make Venues
  • 18,000 face visors from

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

Health and care leaders issue open letter to local people: ‘thank you for all you’ve done - and we must keep going’

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.

COVID-19: Update

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:

  • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
  • to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
  • for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary

C) What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

 Continue to stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

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

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.

  • For health information and advice, use the NHS website or check your GP surgery website
  • For urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service. Only call 111 if you're unable to get help online
  • For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance

COVID-19: Trusted sources of information and advice

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:

Healthier Together

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

COVID-19: Information and advice for the public

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 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:

  • you think you might have coronavirus
  • you've been in close contact with someone with coronavirus

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:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

You can find the latest information and advice at

Five Year Plan (Long Term Plan) Update

NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens recommended on 17 March 2020 that all local Long Term Plans not already published should be held back until Autumn 2020.

Over the next five years, health and care services will develop to offer you even more exceptional care. We want people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire to have happy childhoods and productive lives and to stay healthy and independent for longer.

Healthier Together is a group of health organisations and local authorities working in partnership to improve wellbeing and join up care. While we remain separate organisations we want to combine resources to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Local people have been telling us what is most important; including a Citizens' Panel of 1,000 people who contribute regularly, a ‘call for evidence’ last Autumn which yielded dozens of local contributions, and a conference in October attended by 300 people.

Building on this feedback our focus is on prevention, being proactive and tailoring support to your needs.  By 2024 our ambition is to have a thriving, integrated health and care system that helps you actively support your own wellbeing. Services will work together, with you at the centre. The community will be the favoured place for care and hospital services will be available when needed.

These are transformational changes to the way we think about health, the services we offer and how we train and support staff. How we intend to meet this challenge will be set out in our local Five Year Plan.

We will share the Five Year Plan at a series of face-to-face public and staff engagement events using printed, video, and online materials to help bring our ambitious local plan to life. This will follow the release of the national NHS Long Term Plan Implementation Plan.

To find out more about the NHS Long Term Plan click here, or to find out how you can get involved locally click here.



Festive advice from health and care Christmas video stars

Twelve health and care ‘Christmas stars’ from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have taken to the web to send season’s greetings in the countdown to the big day.

The 12 – who include local GPs, nurses, a midwife and a paramedic – share their thoughts on working on Christmas Day and urge residents to help them by staying well over the winter months and using the right services if they do become unwell.

Pharmacies, minor injuries units, GPs and more are available throughout the festive period and, while nobody wants to be unwell at Christmas, the message from the 12 health and care Christmas stars is: We’re here if you need us!

Tom, a paramedic and Winter Manager at South Western Ambulance Service, said:

“Myself and my colleagues will be here on Christmas Day trying to make the most of it with Christmas jumper competitions… But the serious message please is to only call us with urgent emergencies and to keep safe. Merry Christmas!”

Chris, a GP working at the NHS 111 contact centre in Bradley Stoke, said:

“I feel very lucky to be working on Christmas Day. I’ll be able to spend some time with my family in the morning and have lunch, and then I’ll be coming into work to address people’s medical needs… It’s never nice to be poorly at Christmas but we will be here to provide the care that you need on Christmas Day”.

Andrew, a nurse practitioner at Clevedon Minor Injuries Unit, said:

“I’ve worked previous Christmases before and it can be a busy time of the year. I’ve already seen my first Christmas injury, with a shop worker being hit by a Santa’s sleigh … I’ll be here missing my family and my daughters, but we are open 10am – 6pm on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day”.

As well as paying tribute to the staff giving up their Christmas Day to care for patients and service users, the ’12 Days of Christmas’ promotion aims to remind local people of the range of health and care services available to them on the festive bank holidays and encourage them to use the right service for their needs.

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

“These videos are a lovely tribute to the thousands of health and care heroes who will be working on our behalf this festive season. Nobody wants to be unwell over Christmas but it’s reassuring to know that Tom, Chris, Andrew and their colleagues will be there if they’re needed.

"And it’s important to remember that we can all do our bit to help them out over this busy period by taking simple steps to stay well and making sure we use the right services for our needs.

“In particular, please take up the flu jab if you’re eligible and get help at the first sign of a winter illness to prevent it from getting worse.

“And remember if you think you need urgent medical attention over Christmas but it’s not a serious or life-threatening emergency, please go straight to 111 online or by phone for immediate medical help.”

Local health and care staff will also be promoting the ‘Help Us Help You’ message at Bristol’s Broadmead Christmas Market between 16-22 December. A team of volunteers from different NHS organisations will be encouraging shoppers to take a ‘Help Us Help You’ pledge to show their support for local health and care staff at their Christmas chalet near Cabot Circus.

The 12 health and care Christmas stars can be seen online here.


Future of healthcare in the region under the spotlight at Bristol conference

The ‘Healthier Together’ Conference took place on Thursday 17 October at Ashton Gate Stadium and provided attendees with an opportunity to hear about the vision for healthcare in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and to feed back their ideas on plans as they are drawn up.

The day featured a number of talks and presentations including an overview of some of the health and care issues we’re tackling, our developing five year system plan and an inspirational talk from Happy City, Chief Executive, Liz Zeidler, on the importance of well-being in everyone’s lives.

There was also a number of interactive workshops, with delegates able to join in lively discussions and share their views on mental health and well-being; personalisation and shared decision-making, prevention and self-care; digital transformation, primary care; and urgent care.

Joint Executive Lead for the Healthier Together Partnership and Chief Executive of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Julia Ross, said:

“It has been fantastic to get so many people in the room talking about what matters most to them. More than 200 people, including members of the public, elected members, representatives of third sector organisations and partner organisations, attended the event and there was such a fantastic energy in the room.

“Everyone has been really focused on how we can make health and social care fit for the 21st Century and of course for the future. The workshops were focused on just some of our current programmes of work; we’ve presented what we have done to date and asked people what they think; getting their feedback and input so, as we go through to write the plans, it can properly reflect the range of views of our population.

“Of course, this is just part of the conversation, and we will continue to talk to people and gather views from as many people as possible as our plans develop.”

Healthier Together is our Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP). It comprises 11 local health and care organisations, working together to develop long term plans for healthcare in the region. The views of the public, patients and staff form a significant role in shaping our Healthier Together plans. If you are interested in hearing more about our long term system plan or giving your views as it develops, visit our Get Involved page.

Have your say on future care provision at Healthier Together Conference

Health and social care leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are holding a Healthier Together Conference on Thursday 17 October to gather public views on a long-term plan for the area.

The plan will set out local ambitions for the future of health and care provision, including acute hospital services, mental health, cancer, maternity care and end of life. It will also establish the workforce, financial commitments and partnership working required to deliver on these ambitions for patients and the public. The plan will reflect the national priorities set out in the overall NHS Long Term Plan, which was published in January 2019.

Every area of the country is required to submit their local plan to the national regulator NHS England and Improvement in the autumn.

The conference is a chance for members of the public, people representing patient participation groups, voluntary, community & social enterprise organisations, councillors and anyone else with an interest in local health and care matters to have their say.

Anyone interested in attending the event can book their place by visiting the events page or by calling 0117 900 2583.

Julia Ross, Joint Healthier Together Lead Executive and Chief Executive of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in shaping our Five Year System Plan so far. Our Healthier Together Conference on 17 October is a further opportunity for a wide variety of people to find out more and share their thoughts on the plan ahead of our  submission to NHS England and Improvement at the end of November.

We want to hear from as many people as possible about what matters to them, and what they want to see from future services.”

Martin Wilkes, a public representative working with the Healthier Together Partnership, said: “It’s really important that we, as local residents and those that are going to be using these services both now and in the future, take the opportunity to engage in this process and share our thoughts and opinions.

“Knowing what local people think about health and care issues is really important and will help influence decisions made by the Healthier Together Partnership.”

The Healthier Together Conference will take place from 10.30am to 3.30pm on Thursday 17 October at the Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol. Places are available by booking only.