Health, care and support services in Bradford District and Craven have today launched a campaign to reassure people that they’re still here to help – albeit with some changes to their normal routines.
This is the message from doctors and care professionals who are concerned that some people, who are unwell with symptoms unrelated to coronavirus, or who are in need of other types of care and support, are unsure how to get help or are not seeking it in fear that they are over-burdening services.
The NHS, Bradford Council and voluntary and community services are coming together in a campaign called #StillHereToHelp which is aimed at ensuring that people living in Bradford District and Craven know how, and when, to get urgent support when it is needed.
The campaign is focused on short social media videos and has been created to encourage local people to still seek help for their urgent health, care and support needs during the coronavirus outbreak, to prevent these worsening.
It is feared many people who need primary or urgent/emergency care are worried about accessing local services due to the pandemic. However, not accessing the right care at the right time can see illness and injury worsen, requiring more advanced treatment when these could be dealt with far earlier.
GP practices have transformed the way they work to limit the spread of coronavirus. But doctors and other healthcare professionals continue to be available to see or speak to anyone that is unwell, whatever the cause.
Across the district, practices have shared arrangements to see people with coronavirus symptoms (or who are in a household that is isolating because a family member may be affected) at specially designed locality hubs to help with infection control. However, all other GP surgeries have day-to-day plans in place to be able to help patients with other illnesses or health conditions.
In GP practices, certain measures have been adopted to help protect patients with coronavirus symptoms or with other illnesses, and staff. People contacting their GP practice are initially assessed on the phone before booking either an initial call or video link with a doctor.
Most consultations are taking place over the phone or by using video links or e-consultations wherever possible but, where appropriate, GPs continue to see patients face-to-face in their surgeries. People can find out how to book appointments with their surgery by visiting the practice’s website or giving them a call. Booking appointments may not be available online as it is not possible to ask questions before people proceed to book.
GPs are continuing to do home visits for a small number of people, such as those who are frail, vulnerable or may not have access to transport. GPs will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and patients are asked to wear a face mask to help prevent infection.
Dr James Thomas, clinical chair of NHS Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “As a health and care system, we are concerned that people who are very unwell with symptoms unrelated to coronavirus are not seeking help from their GP or local hospital as they would normally. It’s vital that they know that we’re still here to help.
“As a family doctor, I would like to reassure people that they can still contact their GP about a health concern and get the care they need. Appointments are available for urgent health conditions – even if people don’t have any coronavirus symptoms and are not self-isolating. Practices want to ensure the people get the right treatment first time, so it’s important for them to call their practice from home first, rather than turn up at the surgery in person.
“We know that our local emergency departments are seeing more people than usual whose health has been severely affected by not getting earlier treatment for stroke, heart attack and other conditions. Our emergency departments are still here to help, and have procedures in place to see and treat people who do not have coronavirus-like illnesses.”