“Help us, to help you” – NHS in North Yorkshire and York offers advice for patients

NHS leaders in North Yorkshire and York are continuing to urge people not to put off accessing health services – despite a recent surge in COVID-19 (coronavirus) hospital admissions in parts of the region.

In some parts of Yorkshire and Humber, a number of planned routine procedures have been postponed to free up beds and staff to care for COVID-positive patients.

Meanwhile, in GP surgeries, data from NHS Digital shows that GP practices are providing more appointments than they were this time last year and are coping with the increased demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Practices are also taking increasing volumes of calls from patients asking about the flu vaccination for the 50-64 age group, as well as the coronavirus vaccine.

Doctors’ leaders say it’s vital people keep appointments and don’t put off seeking medical help and intervention if they have health concerns, however trivial those concerns might feel – but are asking patients not to contact their surgery about vaccinations, as practices will be getting in touch directly with patients once more information is available.

Dr Charles Parker, Clinical Chair of NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Though GP practices are incredibly busy and we’re asking people to be patient when they call us, residents with health worries should not put off making an appointment. Together with other parts of the NHS family, including pharmacies and the NHS 111 service, we’re still here to help and take care of you if you are poorly or have health concerns.

“Many appointments are being done over the phone or by video call, but if a face-to-face appointment is required, this will be arranged for you. And even though we’re now seeing some disruption to planned routine surgery in parts of the region, rest assured we are continuing to refer patients for diagnostic tests, so if you are worried about your health, please speak to a GP.

“If you are eligible for a flu vaccination, or want to know when you might be able to get the coronavirus vaccine, there’s no need to contact your practice – they’ll be in touch with you directly when stocks of the vaccines are available and appointment slots can be scheduled.”

Dr Nigel Wells, Clinical Chair of NHS Vale of York CCG added: “I’m immensely proud of the way GP surgeries in North Yorkshire and York have continued to care for patients during what has been an incredibly challenging eight months.

“We’ve had to do things a little differently and, of course, our workforce is not immune to the impact of COVID. We’ve had staff who have been isolating at home in line with protocols and we’re also seeing a rise in winter sickness related absences, which are not uncommon at this time of year.

“But if you need an appointment with your surgery, please don’t put it off. We continue to be here for you if you need us.

“If your problem is a minor, short-term illness like a cough, cold, sore throat or tummy trouble, consider visiting your local pharmacy instead. There’s expert help and advice and a range of over-the-counter treatments that should make you feel better. By visiting a pharmacy, it will free up an appointment slot for a patient with a more serious condition.

“Patients can also take advantage of NHS 111 – by telephone or online – if they have an urgent health concern but are unsure where to turn. And we also encourage patients to download the NHS App. It’s a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet, including managing appointments and repeat prescriptions.”