NHS still open for patients during new restrictions

Advice from Black Country and West Birmingham health professionals.

The Government has announced that Black Country and West Birmingham is in Tier 3 Very High alert restrictions from 2nd December 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:

– You must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.
– Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed.
– Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close.
– Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close.
– Places of worship can open but you must no attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there.

You can read more about the new local restrictions in Black Country and Birmingham here.

Dr Ian Sykes, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said: “During the last wave of the pandemic, a lot of people stayed away from NHS services and so it’s important to remember the NHS is still open for patients.

“As tighter restrictions come into effect in the Black Country and West Birmingham I want to remind patients that GPs, hospitals, maternity services, and community and mental health services are continuing to see patients for both new and ongoing conditions in safe environments, and people who need healthcare help or advice should continue to seek it.

“Our NHS services might look slightly different than they did before with fewer people in waiting areas and people wearing a face covering, but we are still here for you.”

GP practices in particular are operating differently, and patients are asked not to go to their practice in person unless they have been invited to by a GP. If you need to see a doctor you should contact your normal GP practice by telephone or online, and you will be offered a phone or video appointment. If your doctor then needs to examine you in person they will arrange a follow up face to face appointment with you.

Dr Anand Rischie, local GP and Chair of Walsall CCG, reminded people to follow the new Tier 3 restrictions, to protect themselves and their loved ones. He said: “Sadly we are still seeing deaths and a high number of new cases in the community today which could result in hospital admissions in next couple of weeks.

“Please be careful and make a positive choice to protect yourself, your family and your whole community. Doing the right thing now will make a difference later and all the core safety messages are still the most important. Wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth and keep at least a two-metre distance.”

If you have any symptoms of coronavirus – a high temperature, a persistent cough or a loss of taste or smell – then please do not go to any NHS premises. You should self-isolate at home and call 119 to arrange a test.

You must also self-isolate for the full two weeks if you are advised to do so by the NHS Test and Trace service because you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. This applies even if you have no symptoms, as you may still have the virus and risk passing it on to others who are more vulnerable.