Local health leaders urge people to keep up the fight against coronavirus by staying at home

The NHS in Norfolk and Waveney is encouraging local people to keep up the fight against coronavirus (Covid-19) by following the latest Government advice and staying at home.
A new Government campaign launched this week called Stay Home, Save Lives which reinforces the single most important action we can now all take, in fighting coronavirus – is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.
Dr Anoop Dhesi, a GP at Stalham and Chair of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’re asking everyone to help save lives, by staying at home because anyone can spread coronavirus.
“Only leave your home to shop for basic necessities, to pick up medicine or to provide care to those who need it or to exercise once a day, alone or with members of your household.
“Only travel to work when you absolutely cannot work from home.
“If you have to go out for any of these reasons always stay two metres apart.
“Do not meet others outside your household; even friends and family. The message is simple stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
It comes as letters are sent to vulnerable patients urging them to shield themselves from the virus by staying at home and avoiding face-to-face contact for the next 12 weeks.
The letters provide information about accessing health and social care during this time and extra support available for them, their families and carers.
All those who receive a letter are encouraged to register now by going to www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable or call 0800 028 8327, the Government’s dedicated helpline.

This will tell whether or not they are in touch with friends, family or a support network in their community who can support them to get food and medicine, and follow the advice in the letter they have received.

Help the NHS help you

Local GP, Dr Anoop Dhesi, is urging the public to help the NHS help you by offering the following pieces of advice.

Patients in Norfolk and Waveney, like those across the country, will notice changes to the way in which they access GP services. Many GP practices are taking sensible precautions to ensure infections are not spread and that they can respond to patient enquiries. The NHS is preparing a number of practical solutions to effectively respond to this outbreak.

As part of these robust plans and as a precaution to protect patients, staff and the public, GP appointments booked online or those that have been pre-booked, may be followed up with a call by the surgery, to make sure they see the right person in the right place for their illness. Patients may also be encouraged to make use of more telephone and online appointments and many practices have moved to a triage first system.
This is not something that patients should be concerned about but is being done as a precaution to help protect patients, staff and the public from unnecessary exposure to the Coronavirus.
Local GP practices are working together so you may need to visit another practice to be seen but contact your usual practice in the normal way.
If your GP can safely provide your care remotely – over the phone, or online they will or for those self-isolating, GPs will advise how you can access appropriate clinical care.

Don’t call your GP practice for COPD or Asthma rescue pack
We are aware of some inaccurate information on social media about rescue packs for COPD and Asthmatic patients. Please do not contact your GP Surgery for a rescue pack.
If you have severe asthma or COPD you should continue to manage your condition in the usual way or if you feel you require assistance in managing symptoms of Coronavirus go to www.111.nhs.uk or call your GP surgery.

Please be patient and kind
Our staff are having to deal with a very busy workload whilst also having the same worries and concerns about their family as you. You may have to wait a little longer on the phone. Please treat them with kindness and respect as they are doing their best.

Order only what you need
Please order medications using the NHS app or online if you can. You should only order what you need when you have seven days of medicines left. There is sufficient supplies and GPs have been instructed to only prescribe your usual quantities and durations so please do not request more. Pain relief such as paracetamol is available at local supermarkets so please do not ask your GP to prescribe it.

Help us to help you
All the latest guidance surrounding travel advice and self-isolation periods and certification are online on the NHS and Gov.uk websites so please visit here and leave the phone lines free for those who need it.
For assistance in managing Coronavirus symptoms please visit www.111.nhs.uk
Continue to practice social distancing and ensure you are washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.

Coronavirus - your community pharmacy

As the UK responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, community pharmacies in Norfolk and Waveney are working tirelessly to ensure that everyone’s medicines and healthcare needs will be met over the coming days and weeks.

Pharmacy teams are a critical part of the NHS and in the past weeks they have seen demand for Over- The-Counter (OTC) medicines, other products, advice and reassurance soar.

Pharmacy teams are under intense pressure at the moment, working on the front line of the health service often without any protection for their own health.

To help pharmacies to cope under the increasing pressure, today the Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) is asking patients and members of the public to:

  • Avoid pharmacies if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19: If you have a dry, persistent cough, fever or shortness of breath, please avoid entering your local pharmacies as you would any other healthcare setting.
  • Be patient: All pharmacies are under immense pressure and working around the clock to ensure that you get what you need.
  • Order medicines as normal, but in plenty of time: There is no need to stockpile medicines. Ordering extra prescriptions and buying more over the counter medicines than you need will contribute to disruption to the medicines supply chain, which is otherwise robust.
  • Make use of services such as the NHS App and ordering your prescription online via GP surgery websites. These services are easy to use and means you can order medications without setting foot in a GP surgery or pharmacy.

Pharmacies will remain open wherever possible, but you may see that some are now having to reduce the hours during which they can admit members of the public. This is to ensure that pharmacy teams can carry out tasks such as preparing medicines and restocking shelves so that these vital services can continue safely.

Most pharmacies can be contacted by phone and email, and many have their own websites and social media channels – please use these methods to contact your pharmacies if you are displaying the symptoms of Coronavirus.

Tony Dean, Chief Officer of Norfolk LPC said: “Community pharmacy teams are a really important part of the NHS, and like all other NHS workers they are under immense pressure at the moment. We are today asking patients and members to the public to take some very simple steps to help protect these teams so that pharmacies can continue to carry out their critical roles and ensure that everyone continues to get the medicines, help and support they need, when they need it.”

CCGs to merge

The five NHS clinical commissioning groups in Norfolk and Waveney have been given full authorisation to merge. This means the new CCG, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, will be launched as planned on 1 April 2020.

The five current CCGs serve West Norfolk, North Norfolk, South Norfolk, Norwich and Great Yarmouth and Waveney. They came into existence in April 2013, replacing the former Primary Care Trusts. CCGs are responsible for planning local NHS services and holding contracts with organisations such as hospitals that provide direct patient care.
Last year the five CCGs in Norfolk and Waveney decided to come together as one and engaged with member practices, local partners and members of the public before applying to merge.

The Chair of the new CCG, Dr Anoop Dhesi, is a GP in Stalham. He said: “Our new CCG will hit the ground running with an inheritance of excellent commissioning projects bearing fruit such as online consultation websites for our GP practices, Network Escalation Avoidance Teams which help people remain safely at home when they become poorly, and a future of transformation work with partners in the Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership (STP).

“We would like to thank our member GP practices for their support and we would like to thank our CCG staff for their commitment and hard work during a time of considerable change.”

The CCG’s new website will go live on 1 April and the existing five will redirect visitors to the new site. The web address will be www.norfolkandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk. It is not live yet.

The new Governing Body of NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG will meet at King’s Lynn Town Hall on Wednesday 1 April. The CCG is planning a patient / public event in the morning from 9.30-11.30 during which we will showcase some of the work currently being done by our CCG, plus stands from some of our partners. The first Governing Body meeting takes place in public from 1.30pm. All welcome.

Whilst the CCGs have appointed most lay members to the new Governing Body, the role of Lay Member (Primary Care) is re-advertised at https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/xi/vacancy/915992073, closing at 5pm on Monday 16 March.

Recruitment of Lay Member with a lead role for primary care to the new CCG Governing Body

The new NHS clinical commissioning group for Norfolk and Waveney, which is expected to launch on 1 April, is looking to recruit a Lay Member with a lead role for primary care.

The role requires someone who can bring relevant experience, local knowledge, objectivity, and challenge as well as a passion for commissioning high-quality health and care services for the people of Norfolk and Waveney.

Following authorisation in principle to merge, the CCGs in Norfolk and Waveney are expected to form a new single CCG next month. The new CCG will cover a population of 1.1 million people and have an annual budget £1.6 billion for health and care services.

This is a chance to make a positive difference to the lives of local people as we make the right, clinically-led commissioning decisions.

The role is fixed term for 3-4 years, with a working pattern of five sessions per month.

Applications should be submitted online at NHS Jobs and the advert can be found here.

The closing date for applications is 5pm on 16 March and interviews for the role will take place the week commencing 23 March.