The NHS across Cheshire and Merseyside is reminding people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) that they can continue to use their local services and seek emergency and urgent care straight away when they need it.
This is in response to a sharp drop in the number of referrals for treatment and investigations for conditions like cancer, which may result in patients being diagnosed later, decreasing their chances of survival and placing extra unnecessary strain on the NHS.
General practice, dentists, pharmacies, NHS 111 and accident and emergency departments in the area are operating for those who need them, and extra measures have been put in place to ensure that those attending medical settings are not put at risk of contracting the disease.
Dr Susan Gilby, Chief Executive Officer, at Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“NHS staff and key workers are working around the clock to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, while at the same time ensuring that essential and urgent services like stroke and heart attack care and services continue.
“It is very positive to see that people are following the government advice to stay at home during the pandemic, however we would like to urge people who need urgent medical attention to still access health services as normal. Patients who think they may be suffering with the symptoms of a stroke or heart attack should dial 999 immediately. If you wait, it may be too late.”
Dr Bimal Mehta, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still need to seek help if your child becomes unwell for any reason. Our A&E is still very much open for children and young people who need urgent treatment. We would like to reassure parents and carers that we have put in place processes to minimise the risk of children coming into contact with COVID-19 while in our Hospital.
“If your child has an urgent need or if you are concerned about them, we would encourage you to use our A&E where we continue to provide emergency care as normal.”
Dr Jackie Bene, Chief Executive of Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, said:
“Health and care organisations in Cheshire and Merseyside have continued to work together brilliantly to ensure that people living in the area receive the very best care when they need it, whether they have coronavirus or not. We understand that some may feel wary about attending their medical appointments as normal, or leaving their home during lockdown, but looking after your health is incredibly important and we would stress that if your appointment is still going ahead as normal, you should be attending it.
“We want to thank everyone for their support and help during this difficult time – remember, we are still here for you when you need us.”
Through the creation of seven Nightingale hospitals and by working with the independent sector, thousands of hospital beds have been made available to support local hospitals when they need them. This effort means that there has always been capacity across the country to treat all those needing urgent and emergency care, as well as to safely provide other essential care such as cancer treatment, maternity and mental health support and vital vaccinations.