We now know that Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin are in the lowest of the three coronavirus restriction tiers, which were announced by the Government this week.
But that does not mean we should be complacent. Remember, the lowest level is still ‘medium risk’, which means the virus is still out there circulating in our communities. Nationally, statistics suggest that the number of deaths from coronavirus is doubling every fortnight.
Sadly, we are again seeing deaths from the virus in our own hospitals, with three more last week.
So while our ‘level 1’ status may afford us more freedoms than somewhere like Liverpool, we need to be mindful that the precautions put in place are there for a reason.
Autumn and winter are times when we naturally spend more time indoors and a time when we are more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, so please continue to wash your hands regularly, keep social distancing and wear face coverings when necessary.
As we prepare for the challenges that coronavirus is expected to bring us this winter, we are putting things in place to allow us to see more patients who may have had appointments delayed during the first wave of the virus.
We have secured additional, fully staffed, imaging equipment to increase the number of patients that can be scanned, with a mobile MRI scanner at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and mobile CT and MRI scanners at PRH.
We’re also hoping to secure funding for further permanent CT and MRI units, which we hope will come into service in the New Year.
We know this winter will be challenging but we are making as many preparations as we can to ensure we can provide the right care at the right time for all of our patients.
As I have said before, it is important that people who need medical help seek it out at the right time to make sure the problem does not become more serious further down the line.
We saw in the news this week that there has been a fall in the number of people we are treating for cancer. It is absolutely vital that we are able to deliver cancer diagnoses and appointments in a timely fashion so that the best care can be provided to our patients.
We have worked hard to put in place necessary infection prevention and control measures to ensure people can access essential services, seek medical help and attend pre-booked appointments safely.
We know some people feel concerned about visiting our hospitals at the moment, but if you have an appointment scheduled, particularly where delay could pose a risk to your health, you must attend that appointment.
Finally, if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine, please get it. The vaccine saves lives and it keeps people out of hospital. It can protect you and your loved ones. Now more than ever, that is what we need to do.