A joint letter from NHS and local council leaders within the Frimley Health and Care system

Published

Thank you for the support you have shown the NHS and social care during this pandemic. We are writing to you to ask for your help to keep our communities safe. 

You will be aware that we are under a national lockdown as a result of significant increases in the numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19. Our local community has high levels of infection and cases are still rising. The pressures we are experiencing now are greater than anything we have experienced so far with an increase in the number of local people dying from the virus.

This is not the start to 2021 any of us wanted but with your help we can change that. Now, more than ever, we all need to follow the new national guidance to stay at home, save lives and protect the NHS. Everyone – you, your family, your friends – can play a part in the effort in keeping our communities safe and supporting local services. 

Most people are catching the virus while out locally, but then bringing it home and infecting their families. You must stay at home, except in those limited circumstances where you have a legitimate reason to go out.

If you do need to leave your home you should make sure you follow the simple rules all of the time https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

With the rollout of vaccines we now have hope that we can beat this virus but this will take time. For now, we need to do everything we can to look after ourselves and each other and please continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing and hand hygiene guidance. Until a vaccine has been fully rolled out, this is the most effective way to reduce transmission of the virus and help save lives.

Please be assured that whatever the service – whether it is provided in a GP surgery, your local hospital, or in your own home – your safety, and that of our colleagues, is our top priority and do not forget there are a range of NHS services here to support you: 

  • Please take the opportunity to get your vaccine when you are invited - the NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have the vaccine. Local GP surgeries are reporting their phone lines being blocked by patients and their family members calling to ask when they will get the vaccine. This means that practices are being hindered from making outgoing calls, booking appointments, or taking calls from those who need urgent care. 
    It's important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then. Please do not call the practice to ask why you haven’t been invited, or assume that you’ve been missed because your neighbour has already had their vaccine.
    • please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you; 
    • when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments; 
    • and please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives.
  • Visit the Frimley Health and Care website for updates and links to support and the latest information including information about the Covid-19 vaccination programme: 
  • Visit 111 online for advice. It’s easy to use – visit https://111.nhs.uk/
  • Your local community pharmacy can give help and advice on minor illnesses,  medication and prescriptions.
  • At this time please only contact your GP practice for minor illness if your local pharmacy has been unable to help, or for symptoms that won’t go. You can submit an online consultation request via your practice’s website.
  • If you need urgent medical help, call 111 first, who can offer you advice, support you to get the treatment you need and refer you to a range of different health services. 
  • Finally, please remember, if it’s a life threatening emergency, please call 999 immediately.

We fully recognise that this third lockdown is difficult for everyone and the toll that this can take on the wellbeing of all of us – patients, carers, staff, family and friends. Thank you again for all of your support, and to everyone working to make a difference, whether in hospitals, in the community, in mental health, as a volunteer, supporting COVID testing or delivering the vaccine.  

Stay safe and best wishes,

Fiona Edwards, Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System Lead.
Dr Andy Brooks, Clinical Chief Officer, the Frimley Collaborative (East Berkshire, North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath CCGs).
Neil Dardis, Chief Executive, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Julian Emms, Chief Executive, Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Graham Wareham, Chief Finance Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Tessa Lindfield, Director of Public Health for East Berkshire.
Councillor Stuart Carroll, Deputy Chairman of Cabinet, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Health and Mental Health.