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.