Health leaders call for sensible approach to easing of lockdown restrictions as NHS services anticipate busy weekend
Health leaders at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board have asked the public not to throw away the recent progress made in tackling coronavirus by becoming complacent on the first weekend of reduced lockdown restrictions.
The appeal for a calm and sensible approach to the easing of lockdown comes ahead of what is expected to be a busy weekend for local urgent and emergency care services, many of which are anticipating a rise in alcohol-related activity following the reopening of pubs.
And with capacity at the region’s three hospitals reduced to allow for social distancing, and staff having to provide care while wearing full personal protective equipment, a rise in potentially avoidable attendances could delay care and treatment for those in genuine need.
Separately, a return to pre-lockdown behaviours, such as overlooking the rules that are still in place around social distancing, could lead to a spike in new coronavirus infections.
Tracey Cox, Chief Executive, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire ICB, said: “This is not about spoiling the party for people who have been stuck inside for so long, but about urging people to continue being mindful of the situation we are still very much in.
“Yes, the number of coronavirus cases in our region has thankfully remained low in recent weeks, but that has not come about by chance, but by us all working together and staying alert to the risks around us.
“Nobody wants to see a return to where we were in March and April, not least the thousands of health and care staff in our region who have seen first-hand just how destructive and relentless this virus can be.”
Dr Stephen Haig, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Associate Medical Director, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are working in a different way now to maintain social distancing and reduce the risk of infection, so we really want to avoid crowded emergency departments.
“By drinking so much alcohol that you need emergency care, you are potentially taking NHS resources away from other patients who are very sick.
“Please look after yourself and remember the NHS staff you’ve been clapping for”.
As has been the case throughout the entire lockdown period, emergency care services across the region will be open for those who need urgent help this weekend.
This includes the emergency departments at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, the Royal United Hospital in Bath and Salisbury District Hospital.
NHS 111 online, which is available 24/7 at www.111.nhs.uk, can also be used this weekend by any person looking for quick healthcare advice or information on how to use local services.
Some pharmacies will too be open this weekend for people needing help with minor injury and illness, and those looking for information on medicines and repeat prescriptions.
More information on local healthcare services, as well as detailed information on what to do when displaying symptoms of coronavirus, can be found online at www.bswicb.nhs.uk.