Health leaders across the North East and North Cumbria are reassuring the public about work to re-start some of the planned care which was put on hold to help the NHS cope with a rise of emergency COVID-19 cases during the pandemic.
As the NHS starts to see a stable reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases and comes out of the first peak, teams are now focussing on safely phasing back planned care and appointments.
The local NHS is also asking the public to keep up their amazing support by using services sensibly and following rules on handwashing, social distancing and visiting. All of which, health chiefs say, will play a vital part in protecting the NHS as it embarks on phase two of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the bank holiday, health chiefs have launched an animation and reassuring the public that:
- strict infection control measures are in place to help keep patients and staff safe whether they are being cared for in hospitals, the community or in their own home. This includes staff wearing personal protective equipment, increasing handwashing facilities and restrictions for visiting.
- social distancing rules - being two metres apart - will remain vital as people use NHS services.
- the NHS is here if you, if you need us. Please don’t delay seeking help and advice if you’re unwell.
Professor Chris Gray, clinical lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System said: “Understandably people may be worried about whether it’s safe to come into hospital or visit their GP or community clinic. This virus will be with us for some time to come so for us to provide care safely we will be continuing with many of the measures we already have in place to protect patients and our staff - this includes strict infection control rules.
“Many people will be familiar with these - such as seeing our staff wearing personal protective equipment, appointments being held over the telephone or online and restrictions on visiting including who can come with you for an appointment. This will all need to continue for the foreseeable future and we would like to ask for your support.”
Even though some of the lockdown rules have been relaxed it is still important people help their NHS by staying alert said Dr Neil O'Brien, a GP in County Durham and accountable officer for South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
He said: “Everyone has a part to play in how we collectively, across all of our local communities, tackle the impact of COVID-19 which is going to be with us for many months to come. The public have been amazing in responding to the lockdown measures so far and it is really important that even though the rules have been relaxed a little we continue to work together to protect each other.
“Please take sensible steps to avoid accidents and to look after yourselves, both physically and mentally - there are lots of resources out there so if you are struggling with negative feelings during isolation, please do seek help. We also know that drinking too much alcohol, attempting difficult DIY tasks, or taking unnecessary trips in the car could all end up causing avoidable accidents which take up precious NHS resources at a time when we are busy treating very sick patients.
“I would also urge people to stay two metres away from others when they go about their day-to-day activities such as shopping or exercise and, of course those key workers who are still commuting every day. Keeping hands extra clean through regular handwashing and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and face are still the most effective ways to stop the spread of the virus.”