NHS Sussex is urging the public to remain vigilant

Last week (1 April 2022) rules changed in England in regard to testing and isolation for COVID. However, this does not mean COVID Has gone away. Hospital and healthcare settings still need to be extremely vigilant to limit the spread of infection because of the vulnerable people in their care. That means, in some cases, they need to take extra measures to those being used in our communities.

The NHS in Sussex are seeing a rise in people coming into hospital for other reasons who also have COVID.

When someone comes in with COVID it means they need to be treated separately from those who are infection free to limit the spread of the virus and keep people safe. This puts pressure on the space and staffing in our hospitals.

The NHS in Sussex also continue to see rising numbers of staff who are off work with COVID. This, again, puts extra pressure on services and those staff who are working.

All system partners continue to work extremely hard to ensure our communities have been able to access the care they need in the most timely way. Whilst also working extremely hard to treat and care for people who may have been waiting for care as a result of the pandemic.

As part of the government’s Living with COVID plan, free testing has now ended and people are urged to take sensible precautions if they are unwell.

At the same time COVID cases are still present in our communities, and our health services are continuing to see patients testing positive.

The NHS is asking the public to play their part in helping the NHS provide the best possible services during this extremely busy time. Our Help Us Help You campaign has clear messages on the key actions we need the public to take:

  • Use the right services for your needs at the right time
  • Save emergency services for saving lives
  • Be patient with our staff, they are trying to keep people safe
  • Wear a mask in hospital and healthcare settings
  • If you can, have a lateral flow test before attending a healthcare setting
  • Get your vaccines to protect yourself against COVID and flu

Allison Cannon, Chief Nursing Officer at Sussex Commissioners, said:

“It is important that as we transition to living with COVID we still remain vigilant and protect the most vulnerable in society, as well as those who work in healthcare settings, therefore, you must still wear a face covering when using health services. You should also keep practising good hand hygiene.

“If you are over 75 you may have already received a letter inviting you get your spring booster, it is extremely important you do this, as COVID is still present in our communities and we want to ensure you are as protected from it as possible. If you are yet to have your first or second dose of the vaccine, or your original booster please also come forward.”

Public Health Directors for Sussex said:

“As free testing ends, the number of confirmed cases will inevitably drop. This could easily give a false impression that the pandemic is over. That’s simply not the case.

“Rates remain high across Sussex and it’s up to us all to follow the public health advice to protect ourselves, our communities and those who are most at risk.

“Vaccination remains our best defence, and low-dose vaccines are now available to all children aged 5 to 11 years, in addition to those aged 12 and over who are eligible.

“Together with basic good hygiene like covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing as well as regular hand washing, we can all help to keep Sussex safe.”

A summary of the new rules from 1 April are as follows:

The new rules also say that from 1 April in England, free testing will still be provided for:

  • Patients in hospital, where a PCR test is required for their care
  • People who are eligible for community Covid drug treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill if they become infected. People in this group will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms, as well as being told how to reorder tests
  • Care home residents
  • People working in some high-risk settings, including hospitals, care homes and prisons. These staff will be able to test regularly, without symptoms

People will also be tested before being discharged from hospital into care homes, hospices, and refuges.

It is important that during this time people do not delay in coming forward with health concerns so we are urging people to continue to use services in the most appropriate way. People should contact their GP as they normally do if they have an urgent, persistent or worrying health concern and should phone 111 for 24/7 medical help and advice, use pharmacies, and urgent treatment centres in the communities for urgent issues.

If you want to read more information about the Spring booster and who it is available to please see our website: COVID-19 vaccinations – Sussex Health & Care Partnership (sussexhealthandcare.uk).