By Director of Nursing, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust

Column by ULHT’s Dr Karen Dunderdale, Director of Nursing/Deputy CEO and Director of Infection Prevention and Control


The change in the weather marks the beginning of a very busy time for the NHS.

With colder temperatures comes the increase in cases of flu and norovirus, as well as COVID – which is why we all need to play our part in protecting ourselves and each other.

At this time of year norovirus, or the winter vomiting and diarrhoea bug, is common. It is highly infectious and easily spread through close contact with someone, or by touching surfaces which have germs on them or eating food prepared or handled by someone who has norovirus.

Symptoms are typically, feeling sick, diarrhoea, being sick and can be associated with a high temperature, aching arms and legs and headache. Symptoms usually start one-two days after being infected and usually you will start to feel better after two-three days. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading. Alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus.

Another infectious bug is the influenza (flu) virus. For the majority of people, flu is unpleasant but not life-threatening. However, it can be very serious for those groups at risk of developing complications including people with weakened immune systems, as well as those with underlying conditions such as liver, lung or renal disease, heart problems or diabetes and pregnant women.

Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people. You’re more likely to give it to others in the first five days. Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading flu ensure you wash your hands often with warm water and soap and use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze then bin used tissues as quickly as possible.

The flu vaccination is offered to every ULHT member of staff free of charge. Members of the public can contact their GP to find out more about how to get a flu vaccine. The vaccination is free if you are aged over 65 years, are pregnant, have a long term condition (such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or multiple sclerosis) or are a carer.

As COVID is still with us, I would encourage those who are eligible to get the free vaccinations, and booster when they are contacted to do so. This has been a vital step for the country in the fight against COVID and in protecting ourselves and those around us.

Good hand hygiene can also help to limit the spread of infections and there are some simple steps that we can take to help stop viruses spreading. These include washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food. If you’re in a hospital, pay attention to hand hygiene notices such those asking you to use alcohol-based hand rub upon entering and leaving the ward. Also continue to wear a mask whilst in NHS healthcare settings.

People worried about prolonged symptoms should contact NHS 111 or ring their GP, not visit their surgery. They will be able to provide advice for people who are at greater risk from dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting, such as young children or the elderly.

How to practice good hand hygiene

  • Ensure you regularly use alcohol hand rub available on all wards to clean your hands, especially before touching patients
  • Wash your hands with soap and water when anyone has diarrhoea, to prevent the spread of infections such as norovirus which can be a problem during the winter months
  • If you have symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting do not visit the hospitals until you have been clear of these symptoms for at least 48 hours

Dr Karen Dunderdale is the Director of Nursing at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Lincoln Christmas Market will return to the city on Thursday, December 2 until Sunday, December 5.

The festive extravaganza was postponed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Lincoln Christmas Market usually sees around 250,000 people pour into the Cathedral Quarter for festive fun and cheer across the four-day event.

Normally, more than 250 stalls will line the grounds of Lincoln Castle and the streets surrounding the city’s Gothic Cathedral, as visitors shop for Christmas gifts and enjoy the wide range of festive treats on offer.

The 38th Lincoln Christmas Market will have over 150 stalls and fun for all the family, including a fun fair and big wheel offering spectacular views of Lincoln – see the full list of stalls here.

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Opening Times

Lincoln Christmas Market.

  • Thursday, December 2: 12pm-9.30pm
  • Friday, December 3: 10am-9.30pm
  • Saturday, December 4: 10am-9.30pm
  • Sunday, December 5: 10am-7pm.

Unfortunately, no dogs are allowed to attend the Christmas Market except assistance dogs.


Traffic restrictions and road closures

Traffic restrictions will be in place for the 2021 Lincoln Christmas Market.

The Lincoln Christmas Market Temporary Traffic Regulation Order comes into force on Thursday, December 2.

Any vehicles parked after this time within the restricted areas will strictly be parked in contravention to the order. However, to accommodate the needs of residents the restrictions will not be enforced until 8am on December 2, but vehicles remaining after this time may be subject to a penalty charge notice.

Road closures for the 2021 Lincoln Christmas Market.

During the build up to the event and the Christmas Market itself, it is necessary to restrict some roads within the area to a one way system. There will be some areas with no waiting cones on Carline Road to ensure access is maintained.

Traffic restrictions will be in place in the build up to the Lincoln Christmas Market.

During the event the following restrictions will be applied, as and when necessary, between 12.01am on December 2 and 11.59pm on December 5:

These restrictions will be applied, as and when necessary, during the Lincoln Christmas Market.

The event closes to the public at 7pm on Sunday, December 5. Stallholders will be leaving after this time and road closures within the inner area will be in place until 10pm.

Further information for local residents in the uphill area of Lincoln can be found here.

Car park closures

Car park closures for the 2021 Lincoln Christmas Market.

If you have a lawn season ticket, these are also valid in Broadgate and Chaplin Street car parks.

See more information about traffic restrictions here.

Meanwhile, businesses affected by traffic restrictions in the market area are entitled to apply for a numbered outer business access pass. This is for genuine access to businesses – see more information here.


Park & Ride

There is no parking in the vicinity of the Christmas Market, so people are being advised to use the Park & Ride service.

The services operates from the Lincolnshire Showground on the A15 just north of Lincoln, and the site will be well signposted on all approach roads.

There is also a dedicated service for people with disabilities, using specially adapted vehicles which also runs from the Showground.

All buses drop off close to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life on Burton Road.

Pre-booked tickets can be purchased online here at £12 per car for an open dated ticket, which can be used on any one day of the 2021 event.

On the day charges per car are: Thursday £13, Friday £14, Saturday £15, and Sunday £14.

A vehicle carrying eight to 15 people is classed as a mini bus and the fee per vehicle is £25.

Opening times for Park & Ride:

  • Thursday, December 2: 11.30am-10pm
  • Friday and Saturday, December 3 and 4: 9am-10pm
  • Sunday, December 5: 9am-7.30pm

Bus, train and coach travel

Bus

Stagecoach will be running a shuttle bus for the Lincoln Christmas Market, which will run every 10 minutes.

It will run from Bay D at Lincoln Central Bus Station between December 2 and 5. There will also be additional late-night services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

A shuttle bus service will be in place during the Lincoln Christmas Market. | Photo: Stagecoach

People can also travel into Lincoln from Grantham, Horncastle, Skegness, Market Rasen, Grimsby, Gainsborough, and Scunthorpe on Stagecoach’s InterConnect network – see more information here.

Train

LNER will put on a special weekend timetable with longer trains and extra seats. The nine-coach Azuma trains stop at Lincoln station on their way to and from London King’s Cross.

Saturday, December 4 (Northbound)
• 11:00 London King’s Cross to Inverness via Lincoln at 12:44
• 11:30 London King’s Cross to Leeds via Lincoln at 13:21
• 13:30 London King’s Cross to Leeds via Lincoln at 15:19
• 16:30 London King’s Cross to Edinburgh via Lincoln at 18:14
• 19:00 London King’s Cross to Newcastle via Lincoln at 20:44

Saturday, December 4 (Southbound)
• 06:56 Skipton to London King’s Cross via Lincoln at 09:01
• 09:45 Leeds to London King’s Cross via Lincoln at 11:01
• 09:52 Aberdeen to London King’s Cross via Lincoln at 16:01
• 17:45 Leeds to London King’s cross via Lincoln at 19:01
• 14:52 Aberdeen to London King’s Cross via Lincoln at 21:07

Sunday, December 5 (Northbound)
• 09:00 London King’s Cross to Aberdeen via Lincoln at 10:45
• 11:00 London King’s Cross to Inverness via Lincoln at 12:44
• 14:00 London King Cross to Leeds via Lincoln at 15:46
• 19:00 London King’s Cross to Newcastle via Lincoln at 20:47
• 20:00 London King’s Cross to Leeds via Lincoln at 21:44

Sunday, December 5 (Southbound)• 09:40 Leeds to London King’s Cross via Lincoln at [service and stopping time TBC]
• 09:56 Newcastle to London King’s Cross via Lincoln at 12:05
• 09:40 Inverness to London King’s Cross via Lincoln at 17:17
• 17:42 Leeds to London King’s Cross via Lincoln at 18:57

There are direct services from locations including Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Inverness. This comes after LNER worked with Network Rail to come up with a solution for the Christmas Market following a review of its previous service.

Due to key upgrades on the East Coast Main Line on Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5, LNER trains between Doncaster and Peterborough will be on diversionary routes with replacement coaches provided for people travelling to/from Grantham, Newark North Gate and Retford.

Complementing the rail services will be direct replacement coaches between Lincoln and Peterborough with a separate coach service linking Grantham, Newark North Gate and Retford.

City of Lincoln Council has reassured visitors travelling by train to this year’s Christmas Market that potential strike action should not affect key East Midlands Railway services.

See more information about EMR’s services for the Lincoln Christmas Market here.

Coach

Coach operators planning to bring a group to the Christmas Market must pre-book first by midnight on November 26 – see more information here.


Further Information

  • Should you need assistance or want to report anything, there will be police officers, or stewards wearing pink hi-vis tabards, to speak to. As well as this, the market has extensive CCTV coverage which is monitored and recorded in a dedicated control room for your safety
  • Accessible toilet facilities for disabled people are available, including at the Park & Ride site at the Lincolnshire Showground
  • There will be medical and welfare facilities on site for all visitors at the event
  • Wheelchair and mobility scooter loan – Shopmobility, which is located at Lincoln Bus Station, provides daily loans of manual wheelchairs – contact 01522 514477 for more information

Face coverings are once again be made compulsory in shops and on public transport from Tuesday, November 30 — but pubs and restaurants are exempt for now.

The Prime Minister announced the new, temporary measures to respond to emergence of UK cases of the Omicron COVID variant, with the first two cases in Nottingham and Chelmsford.

The government said the measures are precautionary, and will be reviewed in three weeks. MPs are due to vote on confirming the measures after they come into force.

The other significant change affects international travellers, with everyone entering the UK (other than those coming from the Common Travel Area that covers the Channel Islands and Ireland) will have to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

Travel restrictions have already been implemented to slow the spread of the variant. From Sunday, November 28, South Africa, Botswana, Lesostho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibi, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Angola were added to the UK’s travel red list.

About COVID-19 Omicron

The Omicron variant contains a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome.

Early indications suggest this variant may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and current vaccines may be less effective against it.

A rapid rise in infections in South Africa has been attributed to the spread of this new variant of COVID-19.

Health secretary: “plans as normal for Christmas”

Sajid Javid told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday it would be “irresponsible to make guarantees” but the measures announced this week in reaction to the Omicron variant will “buy us time” to enable scientists to assess it.

“People should continue with their plans as normal for Christmas, I think it’s going to be a great Christmas,” he said.

But Mr Javid said the country was “nowhere near” reintroducing measures such as working from home or social distancing, arguing that they carry a “heavy price” economically, socially and in terms of mental health.

He added that he was expecting the government’s vaccines advisers to advise him “imminently” on broadening the booster programme to younger age groups.

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