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NHS plea ahead of the festive season

Front line NHS teams from across the region are appealing to the public as the festive season gets under way to help NHS services do their job at one of the busiest times of the year.

At a time of unprecedented demand for health and care services, and an unrelenting two years for NHS teams, people in the North East and North Cumbria are being asked to keep doing their bit and look after themselves and others this Christmas.  

People are being encouraged to get their Covid-19 booster vaccinations as soon as they can. And if they haven’t already, to take up the offer of their first and second doses, as well as the flu vaccine if they are eligible. 

The Covid vaccine is available in two ways. By GP practices calling in patients to clinics – please wait to be contacted. Or by booking through the National Booking System (NBS) and visiting a vaccination site or community pharmacy. If you book an appointment via NBS and then receive another appointment via your GP please remember to cancel your other booking.

With Christmas around the corner, people are also being asked to think about their actions and the possible impact alcohol and other behaviours can have on NHS services such as emergency care.

North East Ambulance Service Chief Executive, Helen Ray, said: “This is our Christmas plea. Please enjoy yourself but do so sensibly. Our NHS services are already extremely busy and we really don’t need to see incidents and accidents caused as a result of people drinking too much.

“Sadly, alcohol is also often the cause of much of the verbal and physical abuse received by front-line teams which has been increasing. If you reduce your drinking, you reduce your risk of ill health and also really help our NHS teams to focus on helping those people who need it the most.”

“There’s been no let up for our dedicated front-line teams whose support and efforts have been outstanding over the last two years. Which is why we are asking the public to keep on doing their bit to help protect each other, their communities and the NHS.

Helen added: “The NHS is here for you if you are unwell or concerned about your health. Please don’t delay seeking help or advice. But please do think about what service is best for your needs. A&E departments and 999 are there to help the most serious and life-threatening conditions - please think about whether your pharmacy, GP and 111 online or telephone can help you first.

GPs across the region also want the public to know they are open and here to help. 

Dr Neil O’Brien, a Durham GP and chair of the ICS vaccination board said:

“There’s lots people can do to get winter ready, most importantly getting vaccinated against flu and Covid, these do offer the best protection against these nasty viruses. Also think ahead of the things you may need such as a well-stocked medicine cabinet and check your repeat prescriptions are up to date and ordered in plenty of time.

“Our priority over the next few weeks will be to support the Covid-19 booster programme to help get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can. However, if you or someone you care for has a health concern and think a GP is needed then please do not hesitate to contact us.

“Your local pharmacy can also help treat a lot of common illnesses like eye infections, earache or itchy skin. You can discuss your health issues in confidence and they can help you decide if you need to see a doctor or other health professional.” 

Dr Kathy Peterson, GP and clinical lead for mental health, Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The winter months can a very lonely and a stressful time for many people especially with the dark nights and the pressures of the festive season.

“Support is available for anyone struggling with their mental health or if they think they know someone who might need help. Please check on-line for local support information or contact your GP.

“It’s more important than ever that we all take time to look after ourselves and look out for one another, especially elderly neighbours and friends.”

Communities are being reminded to:

  • Wear a face covering and keep their hands clean when visiting any healthcare settings – such as hospitals, clinics, GP surgeries, dentists, pharmacists and patient transport.
  • Keep your appointment. If you can’t make it, let us know so we can offer it to someone else.
  • Be kind. Teams are doing their best to look after people. Any form of abuse will not be tolerated.

 

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