There is no doubt that this has been difficult for many people in our region, with Covid-19 still present in our communities and now cases arising from the new Omicron variant.
However, we can all take strength from what has been achieved to limit the impact of the Coronavirus as we look forward to 2022. Here are just a few highlights, among many other examples of progress made.
- Covid-19 vaccine programme success – with almost six million people in the North East and Yorkshire region now fully protected, with two vaccine doses and many booking their booster jab.
- To date, more than 720,000 booster doses have been administered in our region, which means that 60% of the eligible population have added protection against the Omicron variant.
- Support for NHS staff through the launch of the Humber, Coast and Vale Resilience Hub.
- Expansion of targeted Lung Health Checks to spot the early signs of lung cancer and support for people trying to quit smoking.
- Green social prescribing initiatives – recognising the power of nature to enhance mental health and general wellbeing.
We have much to be proud of, but while many people will be celebrating the festive period this year with their loved ones, taking much-needed rest from work, our colleagues in emergency services, health and social care and those providing services in their communities will still be working hard, as they do all year-round.
It is also important that we all remember to respect our health and care staff and be patient when we need to access health and social care. Be kind to them, and to each other.
To all NHS, social care, community, voluntary and keyworkers – we thank you for your dedication this year and for continuing to provide services to all during the holiday period.
Of course, NHS emergency care in hospitals and the ambulance services do not stop for national holidays, so it is important to use those services for emergencies only over the festive period and New Year when demand is often at its highest.
Please make sure that urgent treatment centres such as accident and emergency and the 999 number are reserved for ‘genuine’ medical emergencies such as serious accidents, serious burns, breathing problems, heart attacks and strokes. The ambulance service and A&E should not be used as an alternative to your GP if your surgery is closed. There are alternative NHS services available, such as NHS 111, community pharmacies and GP out-of-hours services.
Check you have a fully-stocked medicine cabinet to deal with minor illness and injuries at home through self-care. Read more on staying well this winter.
With the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus present and virulent, it is important to follow government guidance to prevent spreading the virus.
- Be confident you don’t have Covid-19: take a rapid lateral flow test before you go out to mix with others, such as celebration parties or shopping trips. That way, you will not be spreading Covid-19 without realising – especially if you do not have symptoms. You can order a stock of lateral flow tests to be delivered to your home here.
- If you feel unwell, make sure it is not Covid-19: get a PCR test and isolate while waiting for the results. If it comes back positive, then you can continue to isolate. If it is negative, then you have the peace of mind that you have ruled-out the virus. You can book a PCR test here.
- Get your Covid-19 vaccination and booster: People aged 18 years and over, and those aged 16 years and over who are at risk will be offered a booster dose of coronavirus vaccine. You can book online or call 119. A booster dose of the vaccine helps to improve the protection you have from your first two doses of the vaccine and provides longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from Covid-19.
To ensure we enjoy the festive period safely with our families and friends, we must be vigilant and continue to take precautions. The best gift you can give your family this year is a festive period without Covid-19.
From us both and from everyone at the HCV Partnership, we wish you a very happy, safe and peaceful time over the festive season.
Stephen Eames CBE, System Lead for the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership
Sue Symington, Designate Integrated Care System Chair of the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership