NHS leaders across Greater Manchester are speaking out to reassure residents that local health services are still ‘open for business’ during the coronavirus pandemic.
People are being encouraged to seek help for urgent or emergency health problems, even if they are not related to COVID-19, to ensure they receive the help and treatment they need.
Silas Nicholls, urgent and emergency care lead for Greater Manchester and chief executive of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Your NHS is working hard to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in Greater Manchester, while at the same time ensuring that essential services such as A&E departments, stroke and heart attack care and paediatrics continue to operate.”
“The public support for our NHS over recent weeks has been incredible and we would like to thank everyone for heeding Government guidance and staying at home. We strongly encourage people to seek medical advice, help or treatment when they need it – for some serious conditions, a delay could be critical. As always, please be sensible and only attend A&E departments or call 999 if it is an emergency. If you’re not sure what to do, call 111 or go to 111.nhs.uk.”
Parents, in particular, are being reminded to seek medical advice if their child is unwell. This follows a warning from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) that children and families are not accessing health services as soon as is needed. While children can catch COVID-19, they may not have symptoms and the virus is rarely serious for younger patients. If a child is unwell, parents are being advised, this is likely to be unrelated to COVID-19. RCPCH has produced a ‘traffic light’ guide for different symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, drowsiness, or a high temperature, saying which health services parents should contact.
Dr Carol Ewing, Chair, Greater Manchester Children’s Health and Wellbeing Forum’ said,
‘Coronavirus is infectious to children but rarely serious. If your child is unwell or injured please do not delay. Get help. NHS111, GPs and hospitals still provide the same safe care they always have’
GP practices in Greater Manchester remain open but patients are asked to phone their practice in the first instance. They may be offered an online consultation or receive advice from a doctor or nurse over the phone. Suitable arrangements will be made for those who do need to be seen face to face. In some cases, this may not be at their usual practice location.
GP practices and hospitals have strict infection prevention and control measures in place, so it is safe to attend appointments. It is important that patients attend routine appointments, such as antenatal checks or childhood vaccinations, as normal if they have been informed that it is going ahead.
This reminder that the ‘doors are still open’ comes as the NHS launches a new national campaign on social media to encourage people to seek urgent medical help when they need it.
The advice regarding coronavirus remains the same. Anyone who has symptoms of this illness (a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature) will need to self-isolate at home for 14 days along with other members of their household. They should not go to a GP practice, pharmacy or hospital. This is to help limit the spread of the virus.