Covid - A Year On: Time to reflect and recover

NHS staff and volunteers helping during the pandemic

Health leaders have praised NHS staff, key workers, vaccine volunteers and residents for coming together to support each other during the pandemic. - Credit: Archant

Health leaders in North Somerset have praised health and social care staff, key workers and vaccination volunteers on the anniversary of the UK's first lockdown.

Healthier Together - which comprises 10 health and care organisations across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) - is encouraging people to reflect on the lives lost and changed forever as a result of Covid-19.

In an open letter, the executives of Healthier Together said it was important to reflect on 'what we have achieved by pulling together' and thanked people for following the national guidance.

They said: "Thank you also to our incredible health and social care staff, who have worked exceptionally hard in the toughest of circumstances. In every setting – from doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and care homes, to community services, mental health wards, vaccination centres and more.

"Whether supporting people online, face-to-face or in their own homes: their resilience and dedication has been an inspiration.

"Thank you to the many military personnel, and the thousands of volunteers and students who joined us. Thank you to the transport and shop workers, the teachers, school staff, community action groups and supportive neighbours – just a fraction of the huge network building our communities and helping us to help you every day."

"While there’s much to be thankful for, the NHS has been hit hard by this pandemic. As we plan for the weeks and months ahead, we need to ensure our staff have time to recover from this experience, while we also work to fully restore services and widen access to care again."

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Healthier Together is BNSSG's integrated care system which includes the CCG, North Somerset Council, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Sirona care & health, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and hospital trusts.

The executives confirmed the safe renewal of planned care was a 'priority' and said organisations are reviewing all waiting lists to ensure clinical need is prioritised.

They said: "Many of you will be waiting longer for planned treatments and appointments. We know this is upsetting and more than an inconvenience. That’s why the safe renewal of planned care is a priority for our whole health and care system.

"Contact information and a range of guidance to support you while waiting for treatment is available on the CCG website. If you become unwell while waiting, please call your clinical team straight away."

Cases of Covid are falling across the area, but hospitals and community services are still under pressure.

People are being encouraged to visit pharmacies for support with minor ailments, GPs for urgent or serious concerns, or 111 for direction to the right services.

The executives added: "Finally, as we approach a full year since the virus changed our lives, we are pleased to be making such progress with vaccinations locally.

"Taking up the vaccination when offered is one of the best things we can do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe."

For more information on the vaccination programme, log on to bnssghealthiertogether.org.uk

For people struggling with their mental health, there are a number of support services available in the area. 

  • The VITA 24/7 helpline connects callers with a mental health counsellor and relevant groups nearby. Call 08000 126549.
  • The AWP Mental Health 24/7 response line is for adults or children under the care of AWP. Call 03003 031320.
  • SilverCloud is a free online platform offering valuable mental health and wellbeing support.
  • Bump2baby wellbeing helps people find the right support during pregnancy, birth and beyond: bump2babywellbeingguide.org

People who have been told to shield can register their details at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support to access priority supermarket deliveries or ask for local support.

North Somerset Together can also put you in touch with a support network in your area. Call 01934 427437.

Anyone receiving care at home, including district nurses, therapists and support workers, can call 03001 256789 to discuss their needs.

People who are experiencing domestic abuse can leave home. NextLink can provide support and accommodation. For details, call 08004 700280 or log on to nextlinkhousing.co.uk