Health and care services across West Yorkshire, which includes hospitals, GPs, the ambulance service, councils, mental health, community services and social care providers have come together to ask for your support as we head into what is likely to be the busiest and most challenging winter the sector has faced.

At the current time we are seeing pressures across the entire system and this is only likely to increase as we move further into the winter period.

All our health and care services are seeing unprecedented increases in the number of people needing help. This means most of our services are dealing with a huge increase in the numbers of people accessing care whilst operating with significant staff shortages.

With restrictions eased and young people back in schools, anyone can be forgiven for thinking the worst of the pandemic is behind us. The reality is very different, and the months ahead are going to be very challenging.

COVID-19 infection rates across our area remain high with significant numbers of people requiring hospital treatment. This winter, flu and respiratory illness are back with us and are likely to be extremely infectious after last year’s lockdown as our immunity will be much lower.

Here are seven simple steps we can take together so we can face and overcome a winter like no other.

1. Health and care services are here to help. You can save time by booking appointments and seeking medical advice online by downloading the NHS App or contacting your GP using the online form available on each practice website. There is a Health A-Z at www.nhs.uk/conditions/ with useful information and advice on common conditions. You can also visit your local council website to find out more about how you can receive the early help or care you need.

2. Talk before you walk by going online to ,www.111.nhs.uk or calling NHS 111 if you do not have internet access. Sometimes you know something doesn’t feel right, but you know it’s not life-threatening and you can’t get to your GP practice or your local pharmacy is closed,

3. Health needs that are not a life-threatening emergency but are urgent include severe pain, suspected broken limbs and stomach pains. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, the friendly team at NHS 111 will be able to advise you on the best way of getting the help you need.

4. Jabs + testing = our way out. Life-saving vaccines and regular testing are the best way to protect everyone from COVID-19. It’s not too late to receive a vaccine. Please have your second dose as two doses are needed for full protection, get a booster and flu jab when offered.

5. Get a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms. Please don’t visit a healthcare setting (GP practices, pharmacies, accident, and emergency) if you have symptoms.

6. If you are concerned about your or someone else’s mental health you can get help through 0800 183 0558 in Leeds, Wakefield, Calderdale, and Kirklees and 0800 952 1181 in Bradford, or contact our NightOWLS service for children and young people on 0300 2003900. People who are Deaf can text the NightOWLS service on 07984 392700. If you are worried about a vulnerable child or adult, you should contact your local council.

7. Continue to be kind to our staff and each other. This includes helping us by socially distancing where possible and wearing a face mask in healthcare settings.

We want to thank our colleagues, volunteers who continue to work hard during the busiest time on record and to everyone living across West Yorkshire for your patience and kindness.

Thank you

West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership

Background information

  • West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (an integrated care system) focuses on the health and care needs of local people across Bradford District and Craven, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, and Wakefield. The Partnership is made up of a number of organisations who work together to help 2.4 million people in the area including the NHS, councils, community services, care providers, hospices, Healthwatch, the voluntary community social enterprise sector. You can find out more at www.wypartnership.co.uk
  • There are different ways to get tested for COVID depending on if you have symptoms or not. To find out how to get tested, go to nhs.uk/get-tested. Please do not go to a GP practice or your nearest emergency department asking for a COVID test.
  • People can get their COVID or booster vaccine at a centre near them by using the NHS national booking service online www.nhs.uk/coronavirus-vaccination or by calling 119.
  • GP practices have continued to remain open throughout the pandemic and see people face to face when it is clinically appropriate to do so. General practice is here for you. Face-to-face appointments are available to patients where there is a clinical need. If you have a strong preference that your consultation is carried out face-to-face then please talk to your practice. You will be asked to first discuss your conditions over the phone or online with a member of the healthcare team to assess what would be most appropriate for you and which practice member would best provide it. You can find out more about ‘Why your GP practice is working differently’ at https://bit.ly/3o3i0uh
  • Many adults, most children and all pregnant women are eligible for a free flu vaccine, so for more details and to book your appointment visit https://bit.ly/3pR1FeW
  • People can feedback to any of the health and care services in West Yorkshire direct. You can also contact the NHS Friends and Family Test to improve patient experience by https://www.england.nhs.uk/fft/. To find out more about how to give your feedback on NHS services please visit https://www.nhs.uk/contact-us/give-feedback-or-make-complaint/ It’s very important people feedback on any concerns they may have or on any compliments they would like to share.
  • A phone call or text could mean the world to someone right now. Darker days can be tough especially for those who may be feeling lonely, or isolated. We can all play a role and ‘do our bit’ by looking out for our neighbours. Check in and help those that need it most. #OurNeighbours ourneighbours.org.uk

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