For the third week running we have had some positive news about a potential coronavirus vaccine. But we have also been told that when we return to a tiered system next week, the restrictions in those tiers will be much tougher.
If we needed a reminder that coronavirus has not gone away, and that the next few months will be difficult, this is it.
As we find out what tier Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin will fall into, we know that coronavirus cases in both areas have been rising and I know from our experience that hospital admissions continue to rise. Whatever tier we find ourselves in, we need to make sure we are following the guidelines that are set out so that we can protect ourselves and each other.
This week at our hospitals, we have started rolling out the new ‘lateral flow’ tests for staff. This is a twice-weekly test for staff who are not showing any coronavirus symptoms, so that they can be assured that they do not have the virus. This is a voluntary test but we are, of course, urging all staff that are eligible to take it to protect not only our vulnerable patients, but also themselves and their loved ones.
These tests are just one of the measures we are taking to get us through what we know will be a difficult few months over winter. Work is also continuing on our Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) building at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, and we will hopefully be able to share some more news on that in the coming weeks.
While a lot of focus in the media has been on the impact that coronavirus is having, there is also a lot of great work going on behind the scenes in helping to treat the virus.
Our own Research and Innovation Team at SaTH has been instrumental in getting patients into coronavirus studies. Recently, 12 patients across our two hospitals were given REGN-COV2 antibodies as part of the Oxford University RECOVERY trial.
Since March, we have recruited almost 90 people to the trial. This has been a real team effort with the research team, medical and nursing staff and pharmacy colleagues and I want to say a big well done to everyone involved and thank you to all of those patients who have taken part.
Vaccines, effective treatments and improve testing will all help us fight this virus and return to normal life. The regulation process for vaccines in the UK is safe and very thorough, so I would encourage everyone to have the vaccine when it becomes available to you, even if you think you are not in one of the at risk groups, as this will increase immunity in our communities.
But, as I have said before, we are not there yet. When we find out which tier Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin fall into, please take time to find out what that means and stick to the guidelines. For now, that is the only way we can reduce the spread of this disease.
If you have any feedback about local healthcare, independent support and signposting is available from Healthwatch Shropshire, Healthwatch Telford and Wrekin and Powys Community Health Council (CHC).