It is news none of us wanted but, sadly, the new national lockdown which is now in effect is entirely necessary.
Announcing the lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said hospitals were under “more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic”.
While we in Shropshire are not experiencing the levels that some other regions are seeing this is, unfortunately, also the case here.
This week, the number of Covid-positive patients being treated at the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal hospitals surpassed the levels we saw in the first peak. Tragically, almost 300 people being treated at our hospitals for coronavirus have lost their lives.
At the same time, we are still seeing near pre-pandemic levels of attendance at our two A&Es.
These factors combined mean my colleagues are under far more pressure than during the first peak in April.
Therefore I make this plea: Please stay at home as much as you can. Remember, under the new rules you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. Please continue to wear a face covering when you do go out. And please remember to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
If you do feel that you need A&E services, please contact NHS111 in the first instance. NHS 111 staff will be able to assess you and, if you should need it, book you at time slot at A&E to make sure you can be seen safely. In an emergency situation, please call 999.
My colleagues at SaTH, across local health and care services, and in the wider NHS, continue to work hard to care for our patients. But this is a situation that we have now been dealing with for almost a year and that inevitably takes its toll. The best way that you can help your NHS is to stay at home and follow the guidance. Only this will slow the spread of the virus until enough people have received a vaccination – and we know that this will take some time.
The vaccine programme is continuing at pace. As you may have seen, care home residents have begun to receive the vaccine and, of course, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is now being rolled out, which will enable us to vaccinate even more people.
But we all need to be patient. A vaccination programme on this scale has never before been undertaken. In the meantime the best thing we can all do is obey the rules of the new lockdown. I’m not going to pretend that this will be easy, but it is absolutely the right thing to do.
We’ve all heard the slogan: “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”. This is important, but it is not just the NHS you’ll be protecting. It is yourself, and your loved ones. So please, stay home and stay safe.