NHS in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes still open for patients during new restrictions
The Government has announced that Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have moved to Tier 4 Very High alert restrictions from 19 December 2020 but the NHS is still advising anyone who has health concerns to contact their local NHS if they need to.
The new restrictions in our area will include:
- If you live in a tier 4 area, you must stay at home. You must not leave your home to travel unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. If you need to travel you should stay local - meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live - and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:
- work, where you cannot work from home
- accessing education and for caring responsibilities
- visiting those in your support bubble - or your childcare bubble for childcare
- visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
- buying goods or services from premises that are open in Tier 4 areas, including essential retail, but these should be within your local area wherever possible
- spending time or exercising outdoors. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your Tier 4 area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
- attending the care and exercise of a pet, or veterinary services
Read more about the new local restrictions in Bedfordshire here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know#very-high-alert.
The rates of infection are rising across the whole of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes with a significant rise in the 11 - 18 year old group.
Please can everyone use all the communication channels they have to reinforce the message that -
- It is great the vaccine is here, but this doesn't immediately solve the crisis
- Everybody still needs to observe social distancing rules and keep their faces covered.
- This is a marathon not a sprint - it will be many months before the virus is under control
- Please be safe over Christmas - don't use these 5 days to risk infecting anyone in your family or spreading the disease further into the community
It is important for everyone in our communities to understand that it is their behaviour that will determine whether we get this under control or risk a further wave.
Last week we sent out an update from Patricia Davies about the launch of PCN vaccinations -
I wanted to drop you a line to update you on the vaccination programme, which is now being rolled out across GP-led Primary Care Networks (PCNs) across the country.
Here in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, our PCNs are gearing up to deliver the vaccine closer to home for the most vulnerable people within our communities.
Delivering the Pfizer vaccine locally is a huge logistical operation, which requires specialist fridges and handling. We have also had to put in place a dedicated workforce to ensure that residents are vaccinated in a safe and reassuring environment.
We need to ensure that we deliver the vaccination programme in our PCNs carefully and so we are launching our sites in waves.
Today, six PCNs in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes will invite their patients aged 80 and over, as well as care home workers, who have been identified as a priority group, for the vaccine. More PCN vaccination sites will follow over the coming weeks, and as more vaccinations become available, there will be more community vaccination sites for other groups.
Who will get the vaccine first?
Eligibility for the vaccine is decided nationally by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The first patients to be offered the vaccine are people aged 80 and over, as well as care home workers and some high risk health care staff.
How will people know when it is their time to get the vaccine?
When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward to be vaccinated. For most people this will be a letter from the national NHS or contact from their GP practice. We are asking the public not to contact the NHS including their GP practice to get an appointment until they get this letter. We would be grateful if you would help us to share this message over the coming weeks.
What happens next?
The NHS will offer the vaccine to more groups of people and in more ways, like local vaccination services, but this will be a marathon over the coming months, not a sprint:
- The programme will expand as we get more vaccines
- A local recruitment campaign has been launched so help ensure there are the workforce to support this vaccination programme. The recruitment is from within and outside of the NHS and is for a range of roles from vaccinators and support staff
- All of these will be trained, assessed and supervised
We will continue to keep you updated as soon as we have confirmation of the exact locations and dates.
In the meantime, we would ask for the support of colleagues in sharing the following messages:
Please do not contact your GP practice to request the vaccine. We will contact you when it’s the right time to come forward.
If you are invited to receive the vaccination, please act on your invite and make sure you attend your appointment;
Worryingly, Covid-19 infections continue to rise sharply in our area and so it has never been more important for us to urge our residents to follow national guidance around hands, face and space.
Please continue to ask residents to follow social distancing and hand hygiene guidance, which will help the NHS during unprecedented pressures and save lives.
Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups
First community vaccinations at Sunriser Phoenix PCN
Last Tuesday saw the start of the vaccinations for over 80s delivered by some of our PCNs in Wave 1.
Phoenix Sunriser PCN in Luton, which covers nine Practices and is led by Kingsway Health Centre is just one of the surgeries that will be contacting eligible patients for vaccination.
Fully trained vaccinators will be administering the jab at the Beech Hill Methodist Church, which is next door to the Kingsway Practice, to ensure there is plenty of room for social distancing when waiting, as well as a recovery area, where people will be monitored for 15 minutes after the vaccination.
John Fraser was the first person to be vaccinated at Kingsway. A long term resident of Luton, who worked at Vauxhall he was delighted to receive the vaccine and said "Because of this virus you don't know who is going to be the next person!"