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Surrey Heartlands Surrey CC logos

New measures to prioritise care 
due to rising Covid-19 cases 

Due to the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on local NHS services, across Surrey Heartlands we are doing all we can as system, to increase capacity. This includes opening more beds and redeploying staff to support our Covid-19 response, wherever we can. However, as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise across the South-East, including Surrey, we have been working collaboratively as a system to put measures in place that will enable us to prioritise how we provide care to those who are most critically ill.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly but we must focus our efforts on those who need the most urgent and life-saving care. This means we have now postponed many routine and non-urgent elective procedures and operations across our system so we can focus on urgent and cancer care, including caring for those with Covid-19.

These new measures include:

  • Opening up additional beds within our acute and community hospitals to help create additional capacity for people who need to be admitted. This includes plans to open additional beds at the NHS Seacole Centre.
  • Prioritising urgent and cancer care over non-urgent care. This has meant postponing some routine planned elective procedures and non-urgent operations to help create additional bed capacity and free up staff who can then be deployed to support our Covid-19 response.
  • Moving to virtual (telephone and online) appointments for many outpatient services to reduce the number of people travelling to hospitals and other sites to reduce transmission of the virus.
  • Working together as a system, across health and social care, to discharge people from hospitals as soon as they are well enough to leave, with the right support and the right package of care.
  • Working with our independent sector partners (such as private hospitals) to identify any additional bed capacity and any clinical staff that could be deployed to other sites if needed.
  • Temporarily suspending home birth services due to ongoing pressures on the ambulance service which means SECAMB are unable to guarantee a timely ambulance response to those women choosing to plan their birth at home or in a stand-alone midwifery unit should they experience an emergency.

Importantly, patients who have appointments should still attend; if we need to reschedule an appointment patients will be contacted directly. Importantly, primary care services remain open.

For those who need urgent care which can’t be managed via a GP appointment, we would urge people to contact NHS 111 first, either online via www.nhs.uk or by calling 111; please keep A&E for emergencies only.

We would like to thank all our staff and partners across Surrey Heartlands, for everything they are doing at what remains a challenging and exceptionally busy time. The measures we have put in place will allow us to care for those who need the most urgent help over the next few weeks; we will of course keep the situation under constant review so we can restore these non-urgent services as soon as possible. In the meantime, NHS services are available for those who really need help; spotting problems early is vital, especially cancers, and GPs continue to refer patients who need urgent treatment to hospitals as normal.

Finally, we would like to thank the public for their support and to remind people to follow the national guidance to reduce the spread of Covid-19; this is critical in helping to protect our families, keep frontline services running and save lives. The pressure will stay on the NHS as long as the infection rates stay high.

As a reminder, for anyone showing symptoms of the virus, or who are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, they should self-isolate straight away. Anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19 can book a test by calling 119.

If you have any queries please email: syheartlandsccg.contactus@nhs.net

 31 December 2020