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Like other parts of the country, West Yorkshire health and care services remain under significant pressure due to the number of people attending A&E, calling NHS 111, accessing GP, community and mental health services and calling 999. The increase in the number of people seeking help is alongside the challenges of a difficult winter and supporting people who are well enough to leave hospital for care in the community or returning home, which is where most people want to be. All colleagues are working exceptionally hard to manage the increase in demand following the festive period.

The ongoing impact of COVID-19 and flu also means that our health and care services are dealing with a huge increase in the number of people accessing care for respiratory and child illness.  At the same time, our services are experiencing staff shortages due to sickness.

As we head into the bank holiday weekend and given the significant pressures, there is an urgent plea to only come to A&E when it is absolutely necessary so people who are most ill receive the best care possible. GPs will also be prioritising urgent and same day care.

We are urging everyone to help us get through this difficult time together, by doing the following:

  • Save time by seeking medical advice and booking appointments online via the NHS App or your GP practice website.
  • If something’s not right and you know it’s not life-threatening and you can’t get to your GP practice, or the pharmacy is closed, visit 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111 for advice if you don’t have access to the internet.
  • Use nhs.uk if it’s not an emergency and you need health advice quickly. The friendly team at NHS 111 will be able to help you get the care you need.
  • You should only call 999 for an ambulance in an emergency, when it is life-threatening or very serious.
  • Stay well and protect yourselves and others around you. Find self-care tips and local services’ information at togetherwe-can.com. Visit nhs.uk for trustworthy healthcare advice for parents and carers.
  • Please look out for your neighbours who may live alone or be lonely.

It’s very important that people who need medical care come forward, especially when someone has a life-threatening illness or injury. A range of services are available to ensure Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E) are freed up to treat those with life-threatening and critical illnesses or injuries. Care for life-threatening or serious illness/injury will be prioritised. This may lead to some planned surgery being rescheduled, and people will be notified directly if their treatment or appointment needs to be rearranged.

Across West Yorkshire local places (Bradford District and Craven; Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield District) have invested a huge amount of resource to make sure people receive care at home, including people with complex health needs.

Looking after your mind is as important as looking after your body. It’s important that you get support if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or lonely. Sometimes it could be a case of just reaching out to someone you know and having a chat. Mental health – NHS – Together We Can (togetherwe-can.com). If anyone finds, they are struggling with their mental health this winter we would like to remind you that support is always available across West Yorkshire. For urgent help in a mental health crisis, call your local 24-hr helpline:

  • Leeds 0800 183 1485
  • Bradford 0800 952 1181
  • Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield 0800 183 0558

Night OWLS (Overnight West Yorkshire Listening/Advice Service) is a service for all families including those with children and young people who are looked after, adopted or have any additional needs who are in crisis or struggling with their mental health. Night OWLS is a confidential support line and online chat facility that helps young people get virtual support when they need it. It provides a safe space where someone can listen and show warmth, acceptance and understanding; offers a chance to look at ways for children and young people to cope and to keep themselves safe; supports with finding solutions to problems and provides information about local services for carers. Telephone 0800 148 8244, text 07984 392700 or chat online wynightowls.org.uk.

We have also issued a renewed appeal for everyone to ‘check in with a mate’– with the festive period often proving a challenging time for many. You can access suicide prevention resources, local contact details and free training on our suicide prevention website. It could save someone’s life.

 The NHS app has a wide range of advice for how to treat aches, pains, rashes and other minor illnesses and conditions. You can also use it to order repeat prescriptions, book GP appointments and view your medical records.  Join the millions who have already downloaded it. NHS App and your NHS account – NHS (www.nhs.uk) https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-app/

We would like to thank all health and social care staff, who are working extremely hard under tremendous pressure, whilst implementing the following actions:

  • Extra hospitals beds across our area
  • We are increasing the number of urgent, on-the-day, face-to-face appointments across GP practice teams from health care professionals
  • We are making use of support through virtual wards and urgent community response teams to keep people safe and well at home. Virtual wards allow people to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital. The NHS is increasingly introducing virtual wards to support people at the place they call home, including care homes. Urgent community response teams provide urgent care to people in their homes which helps to avoid hospital admissions and enable people to live independently.
  • We are asking care homes to seek support from community services to prevent their residents having to go to hospital, if possible .
  • We are asking care home staff to liaise with hospital wards to agree whether people who have been in hospital  would be better cared for if they could be discharged back to the care home sooner.
  • We have prepared for winter more extensively and have and are recruiting more 111 call handlers.
  • We have set up a System Control Centre (SCC) to monitor people’s needs and capacity across West Yorkshire, and we are rolling out a service to respond to people who have had a fall at home to help avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

 Thank you for helping us to help you.