05 Nov 2020

GPs, hospitals, maternity services, and community and mental health services are continuing to see patients for both new and ongoing conditions, and people who need help or advice should seek it.

Those already undergoing treatment, including patients receiving cancer care, should continue unless advised of any changes by their doctor or nurse.

People should contact their GP practice by telephone or via their practice website in the first instance, but those who require face to face appointments will be offered them. Practices are working together to minimise any disruption for patients, so in some cases people might be asked to attend another local surgery if they need to see a doctor or nurse in person.

The Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) in St Helens continues to operate daily between 8am and 8pm; but people are being asked to call 111 or go online at www.111.nhs.uk  first to make sure that it is the best place to be seen and treated.  The NHS 111 service can triage people over the phone and later this month can book timed slots at the UTC, A&E and at your GP surgery or out of hours service to help stop overcrowding in waiting rooms and keep both patients and staff safe.

Dr Sue Hyde, a local GP and Governing Body member of NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“We know that during the first wave of coronavirus in the spring some people didn’t always seek help or advice about their health, either because they didn’t want to put extra pressure on the NHS, or because they were worried about catching the virus. It’s really important that you don’t put off getting help if you need it, and that you don’t discontinue any treatment unless your medical team tell you to.

“Across the NHS we’ve put in place systems to keep patients and staff safe, and reduce the spread of the virus. For example, if your GP or nurse decides that you do need to see someone face to face, you’ll find that your practice will have a system for keeping patients separate. Hospitals and community clinics have these arrangements too.

“I would also urge mums-to-be to continue to attend your maternity appointments as normal.  If you're well, it’s really important you go to all your appointments and scans for the health of you and your baby.  Hospitals and clinics are making sure it's safe for pregnant women to go to appointments.

“However, if you have any symptoms of coronavirus such as a high temperature, or you’re unwell with something other than coronavirus, speak to your midwife or maternity team who will advise you about what to do.”

Sue Forster, Director of Public Health for St Helens, added:

“If you are eligible for a free flu jab please keep your appointments, the annual vaccination clinics are now well underway at GP practices across the borough.

“Adults at high risk from flu are also more at risk from coronavirus – and this includes pregnant women – so please check with your midwife or GP if you haven’t had a flu jab yet.

“The new national restrictions will reduce our day-to-day contact with other people and reduce the spread of the infection. The single most important thing that we can all do to fight Coronavirus is to stay home to keep our most vulnerable residents safe and reduce the pressure on local hospitals and intensive care. We must also continue to remember ‘hands, face, space’ to protect ourselves and others.”

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature or a new, continuous cough – should isolate at home and arrange to get a test as soon as possible, either at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119. Medical advice about symptoms is available at www.111.nhs.uk/COVID-19, or by calling NHS 111 if you can’t get help online.

Information on the new restrictions is available here

For more information for those who are in the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' group and local support available: https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/shieldingFAQs