The current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which began in December 2019, presents a significant global challenge. The UK government and the NHS are pulling out all the stops to care for patients with coronavirus and to prepare for future cases - but we cannot do it alone.
It is vital that you stay up to date with the current guidance and follow the specialist medical advice to ensure NHS services are used responsibly, meaning they can be there for those who really need them.
To help, we have established this dedicated page which contains a range of information from keeping yourself safe during the pandemic and recognising the symptoms of the virus, to getting a test and the latest news on the vaccination programme.
Got a question? Visit our Covid-19 vaccine frequently asked questions at: https://www.healthierlsc.co.uk/CovidVaccination/faqs
Official Covid-19 guidance
It is important to make sure that you have the latest official guidance from a trusted source. Visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus for information on a range of topics including:
- Guidance on what you can and cannot do
- Social distancing and other guidance
- Covid-19 symptoms
- Self-isolating and getting a Covid-19 test
- Available support
The NHS also has a range of information to support people to access the right information and support during the pandemic. www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Accessing healthcare services during the Covid-19 pandemic
GP practices are continuing to work hard to provide services and care for patients as they have done throughout the pandemic.
The majority of common conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by your doctor via telephone or video consultation. GPs are very experienced and skilled in doing this. Using technology like this will help to protect you, your family and loved ones as well as GP practice staff, from the potential risk of the virus.
Covid-19 has changed many aspects of our daily lives, with lots of positive changes. These new ways of accessing your GP and receiving care or treatment are just one of those.
Like all other public areas, GP practices are in public buildings and must be Covid-secure. If you do have to attend in person, please make sure you follow all the guidance in place. This includes wearing a face covering, adhering to social distancing and not attending if you are showing any coronavirus symptoms. If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, book a test at www.nhs.uk or by calling 119.
Before you attend any appointments, make sure you are aware of the changes your practice has made to keep services running and patients safe. To find details for your local practice visit: www.centrallancashireccgs.nhs.uk/about-us/our-gp-practice-members
It's important to:
- get medical help if you think you need it. NHS 111.co.uk can signpost to a range of services, or call 111 or 999 if it is a life threatening emergency.
- keep any appointments or procedures you have booked – unless you’re told not to go
- go to hospital if you’re advised to
Our local hospitals have made changes to make sure it's safe for you to be seen during coronavirus.
Partners across our health and care system are working together to improve the way people navigate through our services, meaning they are discharged from hospital to a place of care most suitable for their recovery, sooner.
If you or a loved one are receiving care from our in-hospital services, you may find you are supported to understand these changes and how they have been created to get you the best care, in the best place, as soon as possible.
For more information on hospital services, visit www.lancsteachinghospitals.nhs.uk/
Taking care of your mind as well as your body is really important as we head into winter and continue to experiences changes to our daily lives.
There are things you can do now to help you keep on top of your mental wellbeing and cope with how you may feel if you are spending more time at home. Make sure you get further support if you feel you need it.
You can access a range of mental health support through the NHS every mind matters website: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters
Support is also available for children and young people through the Healthy Young Minds website: www.healthyyoungmindslsc.co.uk
There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). The test you need depends on why you're getting tested.
The 2 main tests are:
- PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they're sent to a lab to be checked
- rapid lateral flow tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a result in 30 minutes using a device similar to a pregnancy test
Both tests are free.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19
Get a PCR test as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
You and anyone you live with should stay at home until you get your test result. Only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your childcare or support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
Regular tests if you do not have symptoms
Anyone can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests without having symptoms.
About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. Getting regular tests is the only way to know if you have the virus.
If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.
Other reasons to get tested
Confirming a previous test result
Get a PCR test as soon as possible if:
- you've done a rapid lateral flow test and had a positive result or your test sample could not be read (void result)
- you had a PCR test and your test sample could not be read
If you have symptoms, stay at home until you get the result of the 2nd test.
If you're self-isolating because you've been in close contact with someone who's tested positive
If you've been in close contact with someone who's tested positive for COVID-19 you can get a PCR test, whether or not you have symptoms.
What does close contact mean?
Getting tested can tell you if you had COVID-19 at the time you did the test.
If you test positive, you can help the NHS contact people who may have caught the virus from you. They can then self-isolate and avoid passing it on to others.
You must continue to self-isolate for the 10 full days even if your result is negative, as you could still become infectious.
Going into hospital
You may need to get tested if you're due to have surgery or a procedure.
The hospital will arrange this for you. Contact your hospital department if you have any questions.
If you're travelling abroad, you may need to get a test before you travel. You need to pay for a test privately and should not get a free test from the NHS.
Care home residents and staff
Care home managers can get PCR tests for staff and residents even if they do not have symptoms.
Where do I go for my test?
Tests are only available with an appointment – once these are made, people will receive the full addresses and information on the testing sites. Anyone arriving without an appointment will be turned away.
Alternatively, home-test kits can be requested.
Follow this link to request a test: www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
More than 1 million people in Lancashire and South Cumbria have now had at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the largest vaccination programme in NHS history – and over 50 million people have been vaccinated across the UK.
The vaccination programme in central Lancashire is following the guidelines set out nationally to support the vaccination of priority groups.
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its final advice on 2 December which can be found by clicking here.
The NHS is now inviting people aged 25 and over to book their vaccination appointment via the national booking system: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ or by calling 119.
The eligibility criteria in central Lancashire is as follows:
- Aged 25 and over
- Aged 18 and over with any underlying health conditions
- Aged 18 and over AND living, caring or working with anyone with underlying health conditions
- Health and Social Care staff
- Any carers – paid or unpaid. You will not be asked for proof as unpaid carers are eligible
It is important you attend and receive your second dose for maximum protection. If you have not yet booked your second dose, please do so as soon as possible.
We know people will be eager to get protected but we would ask people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they are contacted. The NHS is working hard to make sure those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first. Please don’t worry if you haven’t been contacted yet, appointments will be offered as they become available.
More information can be found by visiting: www.healthierlsc.co.uk/CovidVaccination
Paid employment and volunteering opportunities
Vaccinating people as quickly as possible requires recruiting lots more staff, to ensure that the NHS can continue to provide other vital services that our patients are relying on.
We are therefore recruiting to a range of roles across Central Lancashire. These are:
Registered health care professionals - Immunisations (Band 5)
Registered health care professional clinical supervisor - Immunisations (Band 6)
We need people to work in a variety of locations across Lancashire and South Cumbria to vaccinate eligible groups of people. You will be employed on a flexible basis, paid for the hours that you work and have the opportunity to work a variety of different shift lengths and patterns. Vaccine centres will operate from 8am-8pm, 7 days per week. In all roles, appropriate training, supervision and PPE will be provided to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and patients.
For more information on how to apply go to the website of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust who are coordinating the recruitment activity for the area.
Lancashire Volunteer Partnership (LVP) and the NHS are looking for volunteer Marshals to assist at Covid-19 Vaccination Centres across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
The Covid-19 Vaccination Centres have started to open and will be accommodated in GP practices, health centres and larger public buildings in more central locations. New Vaccination Centres will also be added as the vaccine becomes more readily available. A broad range of volunteer time slots will be offered.
For more information, and to register your interest visit lancsvp.org.uk/opportunities/covid-vaccination-internal-marshall-3/