2 December 2021
Joint statement from Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Shropshire Council, Telford & Wrekin Council, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust and The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.
Winter is coming – and we know it is going to be a challenging one for health and care. Possibly the most challenging we have ever known.
The level of demand we have seen in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin over the last few months has been unprecedented and the highest we have ever seen at this time of year. It is the same story across the country, and it is likely to get tougher before it gets better.
As health and care leaders, we give you our word, we are doing everything within our power to see that our communities get the care they need when they need it.
We are bringing in extra staff to work in our communities and in our hospitals. We are increasing capacity in our A&E departments, we continue to respond and manage covid outbreaks and we have added extra vaccination sites.
But we need your support. We write to you today to set out the scale of the challenge and to ask for you to take the steps you can to help us and help each other. We are all in this together, your decisions and small actions can really make a difference this winter.
The challenge we face
Both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin currently have amongst the highest rates of infection in the West Midlands. Those becoming the most sick are those who haven’t been vaccinated – and that includes some pregnant women. Now we have the new Omicron variant starting to spread, it gives another big reason for caution.
Our hospitals are often operating at full capacity. This is already causing lengthy waits in A&E and delays in ambulances being able to hand over their patients. As a result, paramedics are unable to respond to other 999 calls in the community.
We are also facing delays in discharging medically-fit patients from hospital – many of whom have complex personal circumstances and needs. This is leading to bed shortages and adding to ambulance waits at the ‘front door’ of A&E departments.
Our social care and health teams are doing everything possible to support people who are well enough to leave hospital but need ongoing care. Priority is being given to the most vulnerable people.
Your GPs are also under pressure. Surgeries are seeing record numbers of patients and the demand continues to increase.
How you can help
There are some simple steps you can take to help us in tackling these challenges:
- Get your covid and flu vaccinations, including the booster jab if you’re eligible.
- Follow the covid rules – Think hands, face, space, and let the fresh air in. The latest guidance means you must wear a mask in shops and on public transport (unless exempt).
- Consider how you seek help when you need it – contacting NHS 111 or visiting NHS Online is the best way to find the right service for you if you are not facing a life-threatening emergency
- If you need a face-to-face consultation with your GP, they will see you, but you could also be signposted to other clinicians or health professionals who can see you quicker and give you the help you need. That could be a Nurse Practitioner or your local pharmacist – these are skilled people who can help you to get well sooner.
- Support a loved one to get home from hospital – spending as little time in hospital as possible is better for patients and means that NHS beds can be freed up for others with urgent care needs. Supporting patients to get home from hospital quickly is an important part of their recovery and it also protects them from things like hospital infections, falls and a loss of independence.
- If you have a relative or loved one in hospital who is well enough to go home, but is waiting to be discharged with homecare and community health support, you may be able to help them get home quicker if you and your family can support them at home. If you feel that this is an option that you could consider, please speak to their ward manager or social worker to explore further.
Please help us to help you and those you love. Together, we can get through this winter.