Portsmouth's health boss issues urgent plea to not overrun NHS services as Covid infections reach record high and QA hospital is facing 'severe pressures'
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As of 12pm yesterday (March 31), there were 243 patients with Covid in the hospital and staff sickness levels are ‘very high’, according to the city’s public health team.
Helen Atkinson, the public health lead for Portsmouth, warned NHS services in the area could face even more pressures as we head into Easter and urged people to only attend A&E in ‘life-threatening’ situations.
It comes as nationally Covid-19 case numbers have reached a record high, with 4.9 million people testing positive between March 20 and 26 – up from 4.3 million the week before.
This is the highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic and equates to one in every 13 people in the UK currently having coronavirus.
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed the rate was one in 14 in Portsmouth and one in 12 in Gosport, Fareham, Havant and east Hampshire.
Ms Atkinson said: ‘It is concerning that our local NHS services are experiencing such pressures, which are only likely to increase with the Easter holidays ahead - a time when we know the emergency department is likely to be very busy.
‘There are actions we can all take to look after ourselves and support NHS staff at the same time.
‘Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 will provide the best defence and reduce your risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and Long Covid. If you are unwell, stay at home and avoid contact with other people, especially those at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.
‘We can all reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, and indeed other viruses, by adopting these safer behaviours we have learnt over the last two years.
‘Simple measures such as letting fresh air in, washing your hands and wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces will also help to protect yourself and others.’
She explained that it’s not just hospital departments that are under pressure from rising Cocid infections and high demands for care and treatment – ambulance crews and call handlers, GP practice staff, community teams and mental health workers are all facing significant demands.
This means that some patients are having to wait longer for treatment.
‘We can also reduce the strain on our local NHS services by ensuring we choose the right service for our healthcare needs,’ she added.
‘This includes only attending the emergency department if your need is life-threatening and instead making use of other services such as urgent treatment centres, pharmacies, and your GP practice.
‘We must keep the emergency department free for emergencies - there could be a danger to life if people who do not need to be in ED are taking up spaces for those who do need to be.’
As of March 30, 162,701 people in Portsmouth – or 80.2 per cent of those eligible – had at least one Covid jab. 75.3 per cent have had two and 57.8 per cent have had a booster.
Residents can contact NHS111 online at 111.nhs.uk or by dialling 111 if they are unsure where to go for medical help and need advice.
The council's Covid-19 support service is available from Monday to Friday on 023 9260 6562 or [email protected]
For more information, visit portsmouth.gov.uk/covid-19-support.