ULHT’s monthly column has been written by Clair Raybould, Director of Operations, NHS Lincolnshire CCG.
As the year gets underway is only right that we say thank you again to everyone across the county, for showing continued patience and support to Lincolnshire’s NHS. The past year has been another challenging one and the support from our communities continues to be invaluable.
The next few months are not going to be easy and it would be wrong to share with you anything other than a realistic, honest picture of the current challenges we face. Lincolnshire NHS is one of many NHS organisations under unprecedented pressure due to staff shortages. While this is not a new challenge, it has become more difficult because of COVID-19. Our staff are working extremely hard to make sure essential services are maintained and remain open for anyone who needs them.
We are here for you and if you need us, you must continue to come forward. We know the challenges we face as your local NHS have an impact on you, and we must continue to support each other and work together through these difficult times. There are several ways you can seek support while helping relieve the pressure on NHS staff.
Because of the backlog of work that has built up over the COVID-19 pandemic, waiting times for planned referrals are longer than usual. We understand the frustration this may cause and patients are being seen as quickly as possible, with the most urgent cases being prioritised. Please don’t contact GPs or local hospitals to ask for a referral to be speeded up. It isn’t possible as the most urgent cases have to be dealt with first. Helpful advice and information to help you ‘wait well’ is available, including advice on coping better while you are waiting.
Please only attend A&E with serious or life threatening illnesses, such as strokes, heart attacks, breathing problems or serious accidents. You can call 111 (available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year) when you need medical help fast but is not a 999 emergency. Many illnesses can be treated by visiting your local pharmacy (your local pharmacist can provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and complaints. without you having to go to your GP) calling your local GP, or GP out of hours services, or attending a walk in centre or minor injuries unit.
Anyone struggling with their mental health should not struggle alone. Support is available. If you’re feeling low, anxious or stressed, you can call the new mental health helpline in Lincolnshire (0800 001 4331), open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also find a range of resources and useful information here: Suicide SAFE – useful resources :: Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust (lpft.nhs.uk)
Finally, please do get your COVID-19 booster vaccine to protect you and your family and reduce pressure on health services and, if you have not yet been vaccinated, please bear in mind that first doses are available and we will be very happy to welcome you.
On behalf of all colleagues throughout Lincolnshire NHS, thank you again for your continued patience and support.