COVID-19

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.

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:

  • The tier system – 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 services

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

Hospital services

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/

Mental health

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    

Testing

You can only get a free NHS test if at least one of the following applies:

  • you have a high temperature
  • you have a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed
  • you’ve been asked to get a test by a local council
  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result

You can also get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms.

You should only ask for this test if you have the symptoms now. If the test is to be successful you need to get it done in the first 8 days of having symptoms. Do not wait – you should ask for the test as soon as you 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

Vaccinations

NHS in England has begun the biggest and most highly anticipated immunisation campaign in history at hospital hubs and local vaccination services run by Primary Care teams, with more starting vaccinations over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up.

The vaccination programme in central Lancashire is following the guidelines set out nationally to support the vaccination of priority groups.

To be able to vaccinate as many local residents as possible, local GP practices are working together in their Primary Care Networks (PCNs). PCNs are groups of practices sharing their resources and expertise to support patients. Each PCN across central Lancashire will have a dedicated vaccination site where staff from across the area come together to provide the service.

This may mean that you do not receive your vaccination at your local practice, but this will not affect the way patients’ are prioritised.

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its final advice on 2 December which can be found by clicking here.

The Government has confirmed that the vast majority of vaccinations administered in this initial phase will be prioritised for those 80 years of age and over, and care home workers. Following the successful vaccinations of these groups, the next priority groups will be invited to attend appointments.

We know lots of 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 by your GP for a vaccination yet, appointments will be offered as they become available.

Identified vaccinations sites across the area are continuing to prepare to receive patients, and individuals will be invited as these sites become confirmed – based on the JCVI priority. This phased approach ensures that there is a safe and effective service for patients.

Across the country, care home staff, those aged 80 years of age and over, as well as NHS staff considered to be a risk will be offered vaccination in line with JCVI recommendations, and we are now beginning to roll out vaccines in care homes.  Hospital hubs have also been vaccinating over 80s where they are already engaged with services, for example if they have a planned outpatient appointment. These are separate from the invitations to attend vaccinations being managed through PCN community hubs. 

More information can be found by visiting: www.healthierlsc.co.uk/CovidVaccination

Paid employment and volunteering opportunities

Paid employment

The release of a COVID-19 vaccination is highly anticipated. When available, it will be our best defence against the virus alongside washing your hands, wearing a mask and effective social distancing.

With clinical trials progressing well, we are working with colleagues across the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to millions of at-risk people across the country as soon as they are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency (MHRA), the official UK regulator.

Vaccinating people as quickly as possible will require 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)

Vaccine administration support (Band 3) (CLOSED)

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.

Volunteering opportunities

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/