Due to a combination of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and seasonal winter pressures, NHS services in Dorset are reaching a critical point with unprecedented and extreme levels of demand.
Hard working NHS staff are working tirelessly to treat more seriously ill patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals than at any other point in the pandemic.
Any positive impact of the current lockdown has yet to be felt in our hospitals in Dorset. More people are needing hospital treatment than in the first wave and those patients are needing more intensive services.
Due to social distancing, and the need to control the spread of COVID-19, our hospitals have less space and fewer beds available. This means that they have less capacity.
Local health and care partners are continuing to work together doing everything they can to make care available when people need it but are asking people to make the right choice when they become ill or require help.
We all have a role to play, whether it is looking after your own health, or accessing services safely and wisely.
Choosing the right service, looking after yourself, and following government guidance can help to ease pressures and support our staff so they can be available for those who need them most.
Dr Matt Thomas, Consultant Physician and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There is pressure all the way through the system. It’s a really difficult time. It was easy to see the new lockdown was absolutely needed. Hands, face and space is still the message.
“But for those not sticking to the rules, I wish they could be a fly on the wall in the hospital or in our team meetings and see the fears and frustrations and the tears shed over those conversations that the staff have with patients and families of the most vulnerable.”
Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils, said: “Our NHS and social care colleagues have been doing an incredible job under very difficult circumstances. COVID infections particularly across the BCP Council area have not fallen as quickly as we would have liked. We know from our data that a rise in community cases is reflected in a rise in hospital cases and the same is true of the reverse, until community cases reduce we won’t see that reflected in our hospital admissions.
“No one wants to be in a lockdown for the third time, but unfortunately this is the only choice we have to constrain coronavirus. Stopping social mixing is the best way we can collectively tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and do our bit to stop transmission levels rising.
“So please keep doing what you are doing. Stay at home unless it’s for essential reasons, like shopping for food or going to medical appointments – including getting your vaccine. We need everyone to follow the rules, it is the only way that we will break transmission and bring our coronavirus cases down.”
Six ways you can help your NHS, now:
1. Think NHS 111 First
Stop and think NHS 111 first. If you need urgent care, and you’re not sure what to do, just think 111, who can direct you to the most appropriate healthcare provider for your needs.
To get help from NHS 111, you can:
• Visit www.111.nhs.uk
• Call 111 for free from a landline or mobile phone
2. Keeping your NHS appointment
Please continue to attend NHS services for your booked appointments or procedures unless you are notified by us. If you cannot attend because you are self-isolating or do not want to attend, please do let your NHS service know.
3. Access NHS services wisely and safely
It is vital you do not attend hospital for your booked outpatient appointment or procedure if you are still within your COVID-19 isolation period or live with someone who is isolating.
4. COVID vaccine – the NHS will get in touch when it’s your turn
The NHS is working extremely hard to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination to the most vulnerable local people, following national guidance. We are asking people to be patient and not contact the NHS to request a vaccine. Please be reassured. We will be touch when it’s your turn. When we do contact you, please attend your booked vaccine appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.
5. Look after your own health
Avoid slips, trips, and falls this winter by taking extra care in your home. Loose rugs and sloppy slippers cause falls. If you require urgent mental health support call the 24/7 Connection helpline on 0800 652 0190.
6. Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives
Please follow lockdown rules. 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 don’t have symptoms and could pass it on without knowing. Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.