Ahead of the first May bank holiday weekend, health chiefs across the region are asking the public to keep-up their amazing support for the NHS.
The appeal to the public includes asking them to support the NHS and others by:
• Remembering to social distance – keeping two metres apart
• Keeping hands extra clean
• Using services sensibly – the NHS is here if you need us but please choose the most appropriate service to best suit your needs
• If you are using services, please continue to follow rules on 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 and planning which is underway to re-start more elective activity for people who need to come into hospital for planned care or treatment.
Ahead of the bank holiday weekend, Dr Neil O’Brien, a local GP in County Durham and accountable officer for South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) 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 we all continue to adhere to these rules, especially as we head into a sunny bank holiday.
“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.”
Professor Chris Gray, clinical lead for the integrated care system for the North East and North Cumbria said: “We are now starting to see a stable reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases in our hospitals as we come out of the first peak, our efforts are now focussed on planning how we can safely re-start some of planned care and treatments we had to put on hold so we could cope with rise of emergency COVID-19 cases during the pandemic.
“Over the coming weeks, individual organisations will be contacting patients to re-book some planned appointments and treatments. We will be doing this safely and as quickly as we can but it will take time and will be managed in a phased way – so please bear with us.
“I also want to re-assure people that at the heart of all this planning is ensuring we keep patients safe – whether they are being cared for at home, in the community or in our hospitals. The fact is this virus will be with to us for some time to come. For us to be able to provide care safely we will continue 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 ask for your support.”
Social distancing rules – being 2 metres apart – will continue to be a key feature not just as people go about their daily business but will remain vital as they use NHS services too.
Professor Chris Gray added: “Your support for the NHS has been amazing so let’s all keep it up and look after the NHS and each other!”