We, along with other healthcare organisations, will be working hard to deal with ‘significant pressure and disruption’ this festive period with strike action starting today (Wednesday).

Junior doctors who are members of the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) will be striking from 7am today to 7am on Saturday 23 December 2023.

Further strike action by junior doctors who are members of the BMA will take place in the new year from 7am Wednesday 3 January to 7am 9 January 2024. It will affect our Trust and a number of other Trusts.

We are working hard to deliver the best care possible during this time and the safety of our patients and our colleagues is our top priority.

Please continue to attend appointments as planned unless you are contacted to reschedule. If you have a life-threatening emergency, our emergency departments remain open 24 hours a day, so please continue to come forward as normal.

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.

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

Last week, in an open letter, we along with NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, other local healthcare providers and Shropshire Council outlined the challenge services are facing as we head into the winter months – but also how the public can help support local health and care services.

We have seen a rise in the number of cases of norovirus, which brings on diarrhoea and vomiting, and other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Our hospitals are very busy and full, which is causing lengthy waits in our Emergency Departments (ED) and delays in ambulances being able to hand over their patients.

We also face delays in discharging patients from hospital – many of whom have complex personal circumstances and needs. This is leading to extended waiting times to access beds and adding to ambulance handover delays.

We are currently running a Multi-Agency Discharge Event (MADE), where we are working with our partners across the health and social care system to ensure patients who are well enough can go home for Christmas. This will help with access to beds.

There are some things we can all do to help our health and care services overcome a challenging winter, and they can be read in the full letter.

Last week, the Children’s Unit at Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) had some very special visitors – Santa arrived by helicopter and Wolves football players.

There was plenty of festive cheer with the team at RAF Shawbury transporting Santa and his presents via helicopter to the hospital. RAF personnel helped Santa to distribute his gifts at the PRH.

Then, just a day later, well-known faces from the Wolves first team such as Nelson Semedo, Totti Gomes and Joe Hodge, along with Ellie Wilson, Beth Roberts and our very own Anna Morphet visited the patients on the wards.

They played games, handed out gifts and chatted with the children. Anna, who works at PRH full time as a physiotherapist, is a member of the Wolves Ladies starting XI.

It was fantastic to see the excitement as Christmas can be a really challenging time for patients, especially for children and their families whilst receiving treatment in hospital during the festive period.

Finally, I would like to thank my colleagues who will be working hard caring for patients over the Christmas period. I wish all Star readers a very happy and healthy Christmas and thank you to everyone in the communities we serve for your support throughout the year!