Our hospitals remain under pressure and at this time of year we are seeing an increase in COVID-19, flu and norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.

We, along with other health and care partners, are urging the community to play their part with the Think Which Service Campaign, which aims to help you to know where to go to get the right advice, support and treatment for your health needs as quickly as possible.

You can also visit NHS 111 online or call 111 if you need urgent medical help or consider visiting your local Minor Injury Unit in Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Oswestry and Whitchurch. These can provide rapid treatment for injuries and illnesses that don’t require emergency hospital care.

Despite the challenges, urgent and emergency care services at both the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford remain open for anyone who needs them. Please do continue to come forward.

For further information about Think Which Service, visit: http://thinkwhichservice.co.uk/

Could I also repeat last week’s reminder that if you are visiting our hospitals to help keep our patients, staff and visitors safe, please ensure:

Hand washing:

  • Always clean your hands using soap and water or alcohol hand gel:
  • Before and after contact with a patient
  • Every time you enter or leave a patient’s room, or other wards.

Face masks:

  • When visiting the Emergency Department (ED), please consider wearing a face mask to protect yourself and others
  • If you want to wear a face mask when visiting other areas of our hospitals, face masks remain available at all hospital entrances and ward areas.

When not to visit:

Please protect our patients by not visiting someone in hospital if you have:

  • Flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, cold)
  • If you know you have COVID-19 or flu, or any other infections
  • Diarrhoea and/or vomiting within the last two days.

There are actions we can all take to help reduce the risk of catching infections and passing them on to others.

Last week, I had the honour of attending the opening of the Renal Supportive Care Suite at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. This was due to a generous donation from the Shropshire Kidney Patients Association to the Swan Fund.

The room is dedicated in memory of Dai Lock who was a former renal patient. Tom Beamont, Chairman of the Shropshire Kidney Patients Association, and Dai’s wife Jules Lock, Lead Swan End of Life Care (EoLC) Volunteer, cut the ribbon for the suite.

It is a fantastic area, which provides a calm space on the Renal Unit, so colleagues can have important, open and honest conversations with patients and relatives about the care to be provided to them within the last stages of their lives.

Finally, one of our young patients Yasir had a magical time when he and other children were invited to help The Queen decorate the Christmas Tree at Clarence House.

Four-year-old Yasir went along with his mum and his Roald Dahl Nurse Janice Llewellyn, who works at Princess Royal Hospital. The visit was arranged through Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, of which Her Majesty The Queen is the Royal Patron.

I hear that the youngster who suffers with sickle cell disorder and has overcome pneumococcal meningitis, and Janice, who supports him and his family, had the most amazing visit.