An open letter to Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin residents
15 December 2023
Joint statement from NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire Council, The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust and West Midlands Ambulance Service.
To the residents of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin,
Winter is upon us, and we need your help to protect you, your friends, your families and our health and care services, which are already under extreme pressure. The level of demand we have seen in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin over the last few weeks has been very high and shows no sign of relenting. It is the same story across the country, and it will likely get even more challenging, especially as we enter the festive period.
As health and care leaders, we give you our word that we are doing everything within our power to see that our communities get the appropriate care they need when they need it. However, we also recognise that some experiences are not as we would expect and apologise for that.
We are taking additional steps to prioritise and maintain safe services for patients. Where possible, we are bringing in additional staff to work in our communities and our hospitals and we are maximising resources to manage urgent and emergency care pressures. Our aim is to prioritise those with the highest needs and ensure that we continue to be able to manage emergency care.
Our staff continue to work exceptionally hard, and we appreciate everything that they are doing to ensure that despite the challenges we face, our services remain open to anyone who needs them.
But we need your support. We write to you today to set out the scale of the challenge and to ask you to take the steps you can to help us and help each other. We are all in this together, your decisions and small actions can make a difference this winter.
The challenge we face
Both Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin are seeing sustained and high numbers of patients, with the number of instances of norovirus, which brings on diarrhoea and vomiting, and other respiratory illnesses such as covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) on the rise.
Our hospitals are very busy and full. This is causing lengthy waits in A&E and delays in ambulances being able to hand over their patients. As a result, ambulance crews are unable to respond to other 999 calls in the community.
We also face delays in discharging patients from hospital – many of whom have complex personal circumstances and needs. This is leading to extended waiting times to access beds and adding to ambulance handover delays.
Our social care and health teams are doing everything possible to support people who are well enough to leave hospital but need ongoing care. Priority is being given to the most vulnerable people.
Your GPs are also under unprecedented pressure. Surgeries are seeing record numbers of patients, and the demand continues to increase.
How you can help
There are some things you can do to play your part in tackling these challenges:
- Get your covid and flu vaccinations, including the booster jab if you’re eligible. They are simple steps that will help you stay well and reduce the likelihood of you needing other health and care services.
- If you have norovirus (vomiting and diarrhoea) stop it spreading by washing your hands regularly. If you or a family member have been sick with norovirus, you should avoid visiting hospitals and care homes, and not return to work or school until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped. Also avoid visiting elderly or vulnerable people.
- Visit NHS 111 Online or call NHS 111 if you or someone you’re with has a medical problem that isn’t life-threatening but requires immediate help, NHS 111 will get you assessed and directed to the right place.
- If you need to see a GP, they will see you, but you could also be signposted to other clinicians or health professionals who can see you quicker and give you the help you need. That could be a nurse practitioner or pharmacist – these are skilled people who can help you to get well sooner.
- Consider using your local Minor Injury Unit in Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Oswestry and Whitchurch, which on average have much shorter waiting times. These can provide rapid treatment for urgent, non-life-threatening injuries such as cuts, burns and sprains.
- Local pharmacies are open seven days a week to offer advice and over the counter medications for minor ailments such as upset stomachs, earache, skin rashes and relief from coughs and colds.
- Support a loved one to get home from hospital as quickly as possible. Spending as little time in hospital as possible is better for patients. Collecting your loved one from hospital as early as possible will also help free up beds for patients who require admission.
- If you have a relative or loved one in hospital waiting to be discharged with homecare and community health support, you may help them get home quicker if you and your family can support them at home. If you feel that this is an option that you could consider, please speak to their ward manager or social worker to explore further.
- Only call 999 or attend A&E departments for genuine life-threatening emergencies.
For more information and to find the right help fast, visit: www.thinkwhichservice.co.uk.
Please help us to help you and those you love. Together, we can get through this winter.
On behalf of:
NHS Shropshire Telford and Wrekin:
Simon Whitehouse, Chief Executive
Dr Nick White, Chief Medical Officer
Cllr Lezley Picton, Leader of Shropshire Council
Andy Begley, Chief Executive
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust:
Louise Barnett, Chief Executive
Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust:
Patricia Davies, Chief Executive
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust:
Stacey Keegan, Chief Executive
West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust:
Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive
Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust:
Neil Carr OBE, Chief Executive
Page last updated 20 December 2023