A message from Julia Burrows, Barnsley Director of Public Health on behalf of the Integrated Care Partnership – Friday 15 October

As we head into winter, we want to share with you some of the challenges and opportunities facing NHS and care services, and how together, we can all help each other.

The way Barnsley people have responded flexibly to the NHS throughout the past 18 months has been amazing and we still need your help.

The pandemic is not over. Rates remain high, people continue to die from COVID-19, and others are experiencing long-COVID. It is still having an impact on all aspects of people’s lives and we certainly see it still in health and care services.

There are some simple things that would make a real difference to making sure that everybody gets the care they need.

Together we can choose well

You’ve given incredible support to the NHS during the pandemic, but it’s not over yet, and we still need your help. Together we can all do our bit. Here are some of the things which will help you to get the suitable support you need:

  1. Self-care. If you can, use the online resources that are available to you. Always think what your first port of call might be for the symptoms you’re experiencing. Basic self-management of common conditions keeps more appointments available for those who need them. The NHS website and the NHS App both have symptom checkers which are very good at giving you that initial advice. The NHS App also allows you to book or amend an appointment at your GP surgery and order your routine prescriptions. If you have young children, check out the South Yorkshire Healthier Together website for advice if they are unwell.
  2. Barnsley pharmacies offer a wide range of services and expert advice for a whole host of common conditions like aches and pains, colds, tummy troubles. If they think you need additional help or advice, they will let you know.

  3. Talk before you walk. If you do feel that you’ve got a health issue that needs resolving and you’re worried about it, and it’s not life-threatening, call NHS 111 or use the 24/7 online service. It will get you the care and support you need and give you good advice. If you can’t go online, call. It’s free and it’s there to help.

  4. Your mental health and wellbeing. Make sure that if you are anxious about your mental health, or the mental health of somebody else, you use the free mental health lines that are available 24/7.  Talk to somebody, we will always talk to you and get you the help that you need. You can call 0800 183 0558. Check out the guide to support and services on any of the local NHS or council websites.

  5. Emergencies. 999 and Accident and Emergency (A&E) are there for you when there is a serious or life-threatening emergency. Please use them for those reasons. This means that our emergency service workers are available to help people who need it most.

We also need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 to keep each other safe and protect our health services, here’s what actions you can take to help:

Please have your COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines and regular testing are the best way to protect everyone from COVID-19. If you haven’t yet had your first dose, it’s not too late. If you’re concerned about getting your vaccine, please talk to someone and look at our advice and guidance online to find out more about the jab and why it’s so important you have yours. Getting your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine along with any boosters once invited or flu vaccines if you’re eligible is also very important to give you the best protection.

Test regularly. Use lateral flow tests at home and get a free PCR test if you have symptoms. This combination of testing helps us find and isolate people with COVID-19 and is vital in stopping the spread.

Follow safe behaviours. As you spend more time socialising with loved ones, it’s important to follow safe behaviours to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19. Remember to wash

your hands regularly, wear a face covering in busy areas, make space for others, and, where possible, let fresh air into your meet ups. These tools will help reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and allow us to do the things we enjoy safely. 

If we can all use services in these ways while also following safe COVID behaviours, we’ll be much better prepared for these coming months through what’s going to be a tough and challenging winter.

What we’re doing

We’d like to share with you some of the things we’re doing in Barnsley as we continue to see the very real impact COVID-19 has had on our services.

  • We have been awarded funding to create new NHS community based diagnostic hubs which will offer scans, tests, and checks. The first one in Barnsley will be based at The Glass Works in the town centre. This will speed up some waiting times, and it will offer a convenient location to have these things done.

  • Our GP services are recruiting more staff in a range of roles providing additional support to people with ongoing, or long-term, conditions. These include physiotherapists for example who have the skills to assess, diagnose, treat, and manage muscle or joint problems. Many GP practices have a range of different professionals who can diagnose and treat health conditions. It means you get more specialist support, and you don’t always need to see a GP for every appointment.
  • Many GP practices are working differently by offering an initial assessment when you contact them. This helps them make sure they can get you to the right member of the team. They are also able to offer telephone appointments for those who want them, which frees up more time for those who need a face-to-face appointment.
  • Local pharmacies are also working with GPs in their local area. They are offering a more enhanced service for certain conditions. We saw lots of success in the summer, where some pharmacies offered advice and prescribing services for people with hay fever. A person would usually visit their GP as well as a pharmacy – this joint service meant the person could instead go straight to the pharmacy. More services like this are planned for different conditions.
  • The council and voluntary community organisations are also working hard and doing all they can to support people to stay healthy and independent at home.  Unpaid carers are experts in care and continue to play a key role in helping us support loved ones, family, and their friends – and we’d like to thank each carer. 
  • Our community services will continue to provide invaluable support to residents to recover in familiar settings such as at home close to family and friends. It is important people do not stay in hospital any longer than they need to

Thank you for continuing to work together with us. We must all be more kind to ourselves and those around us as we all work through these very challenging times.

Barnsley Integrated Care Partnership is made up of the following organisations: Barnsley Council, Barnsley CVS, NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, Barnsley Healthcare Federation, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Barnsley Hospice, South West Yorkshire NHS Partnership Foundation Trust, and Healthwatch Barnsley as an independent member.

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