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Stay Well this Winter
Isle of Wight Health and Care System responds to health and care needs of Islanders
04 January 2018

Islanders cannot have missed the national media reporting about the pressures faced by health and care services over the last 10 days.   On the Island our planned flexible response to surges in activity has been working well.  Our staff and volunteers across the Island’s health and care system have responded magnificently to the pressures the Island has faced.

We have worked as a system to invest in practical help for people before admission to hospital and following discharge. Support services like ‘Living Well’ and ‘Support at Home’ provided by Age UK IW and the British Red Cross have made a real difference to Islanders and to the services we provide. IW Council’s Adult Social Care team have provided additional social work staff in the hospital to facilitate discharges as well as increased capacity in their outreach teams.  Many residential and nursing care homes and domiciliary agencies across the Island have responded flexibly to the need to work quickly to assess and place individuals in their care.  GPs have been treating and undertaking home visits to more people so that people can get the help they need at home.   Practices have extended their opening hours and have made additional home visits where that is necessary.

Whilst we have prepared and are coping well we know that more cold weather is on the way. We also know that flu, probably one of the worse strains of flu we have seen for many years, is also on the way.   You can help by taking steps to stay well this winter including getting a flu jab.  It’s not too late and they’re still available from GP surgeries and pharmacies.  Islanders can continue to support us by using services appropriately and making full use of the excellent medical knowledge their local pharmacist has.

Dr Barbara Stuttle CBE, Chief Nurse at Isle of Wight NHS Trust said:

“St. Mary’s has been experiencing higher than normal levels of patients with medical issues, in particular respiratory problems. We have a flexible plan for responding to surges in activity.  Patients will have heard in the national media that the NHS is cancelling appointments in order to cope with this emergency pressure.   We will communicate with patients as soon as possible if their planned operation needs to be cancelled. However, unless we contact you, patients with planned operations and appointments should attend as normal.

“We recognise that cancelling operations is a disappointment and disruptive and I would like to apologise to anyone who has had their operation cancelled.   I would like to once again thank our local community for continuing their use of alternative options for urgent health care, to other services for their support to enable Islanders to be cared for outside hospital and also our staff and volunteers, throughout our ambulance, community, hospital and mental health services, who continue to work incredibly hard to provide safe patient care.”

What can Islanders do to support?

We’re grateful to Islanders using services sparingly and for the support you’re showing to those who care for others. It’s also really helpful when relatives and neighbours can support someone who has been in hospital by ensuring the home is warm when they are discharged, that there is some food available and someone is available to make sure their OK for the first 24 to 48 hours.

Flu is on the increase.  We’re beginning to see confirmed cases across England.   In the seven days to 28th December 34 new acute respiratory outbreaks were reported across England and the rate of consultation rose from 11.4 per 100,000 people to 18.9 per 100,000 people.  In that same week there were 61 new admissions to Intensive Care and 66 new hospitalisations with confirmed flu.  The flu jab is available from your GP or local pharmacies.  If you’re not entitled to a free vaccination then the flu jab can be obtained for a small fee at pharmacies.

Pharmacies are an important first point of call for advice and over the counter remedies, especially for those people who are beginning to feel unwell with a cold or flu type symptoms. The spread of coughs and colds can be minimised by simple actions to shield the mouth and nose, dispose of tissues immediately after use and wash hands frequently.

Calling 111 is often a quicker and more convenient way of obtaining a clinical assessment and advice in non-emergencies and allows staff in the Emergency Department to focus on the sickest patients. The Royal College of GPs has already set out three basic steps that all patients should consider before seeking an appointment with their GP for an acute illness including self-care, using online guidance from NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk) and consulting with a pharmacist.

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