NHS staff urge people to make the right choice for health care as lockdown eases

The NHS is calling on people living and visiting Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to have fun, stay safe and if they need health care to use the most appropriate service as it gears up for a very busy ‘bank holiday-style’ weekend.

With pubs, bars, restaurants, tourist hotspots and accommodation beginning to reopen after more than 100 days of coronavirus lockdown this weekend, the county is going to be much busier than it has been in recent weeks.

Toby Slade, emergency department consultant at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, said: “We can appreciate that people will want to get out and about and make the most of the opportunities that have not been available for so long. As such we’re preparing for a very busy weekend – I’ve heard it described as New Year’s Eve, if New Year’s Eve fell on a sunny bank holiday and lasted up to 24 hours.”

Toby and his NHS colleagues want everyone to enjoy these new freedoms but added: “We know with more people out and about there are greater risks. Think about how much alcohol you’re consuming, please act sensibly – we want to keep you safe.”

The emergency department will remain open for business for serious and life-threatening illnesses or injuries, such as heart attacks or strokes. In instances such as these people should go straight to the emergency department or dial 999.

If a situation arises that is urgent but not serious people are asked to use NHS 111.

He said: “Help us to help you by using NHS 111. Dial 111 or go online to 111.nhs.uk where you can find a full range of local health services. If you aren’t sure what to do and you have a minor injury use 111 and they will direct you to the most appropriate location to get help.”

"Anyone who does attend the emergency department will find that the waiting room is much smaller than before to maintain social distancing at two metres and reduce the risk of infection to other patients and staff. Following initial assessment, our patients will be requested to wait outside or in their cars - to ensure the reduced waiting room capacity is only for vulnerable patients who really need it."

Iain Chorlton, GP and NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group chairman, said: “I would like to remind people that despite us seeing things beginning to reopen we are still very much in the middle of a pandemic and this is far from over. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s response and support to the crises has been really impressive but we need to keep going.”

“One of the most important actions people can take is if you aren’t sure what to do and you have a minor injury use 111 and they will direct you to the most appropriate location,” he added.

He also has advice for those visiting the county now lockdown restrictions are being lifted.

Dr Chorlton added: “It is also important that if you are unwell and need to see a doctor that you contact your own GP practice even if you’re a visitor and the practice is outside of Cornwall. My practice and practices up and down the country are offering video appointments which mean we can see patients safely and quickly during the pandemic.

“This weekend marks 72 years of the NHS and the best way you can say thank you is to use the right services and follow social distancing guidelines.”