Caution plea amid warning Cambridgeshire’s hospitals and emergency services are under immense pressure
A collective plea for caution has come from the leaders of public sector organisations across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough amid warnings that hospitals and emergency services are under immense pressure.
The plea follows sharply rising Covid-19 rates and concerns that this will affect vulnerable people and overwhelm public services.
Hospitals in the area are under immense pressure, with increasing demands for urgent care and there is increasing concern that any rise in Covid cases requiring hospital care will add further stress to the system.
Public services in the county are also all under pressure as they have been further impacted by having high numbers of staff self-isolating, either because they have tested positive, or they have been a close contact of someone who has. There is concern that if rates continue to rise further, it could impact the delivery of key services.
Jyoti Atri, director of public health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “We are at such a critical point in the pandemic, with the number of infections rising every day and people now able to make their own decisions on what they do to keep themselves and others safe.
“I can understand why people are keen to resume their normal activities, but there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and others, whilst going back to doing the things that we enjoy. For example, we can choose to meet people outdoors, especially whilst the weather is so good and wear masks in indoor spaces. This is important even if you have had both doses of the vaccine as there is still a chance you can carry and pass on the virus.
“If we don’t, we risk more people becoming very ill or dying, public services and many other businesses across the county being impacted and of course we risk a further damaging lockdown. Do the right thing and take every action you can to keep yourself and others safe.”
Ms Atri has been joined by chief constable Nick Dean, chief fire officer Chris Strickland, chair of the clinical commissioning group and local GP Gary Howsam and chief operating officer of the East of England Ambulance Service, Marcus Bailey, to urge residents to do the right thing and keep following the measures that can reduce transmission of the virus.
The leaders have come together to make a collective plea for people to do whatever they can to reduce transmission of Covid-19, which includes:
- Saying yes to both doses of the vaccine - with all adults now eligible and people able to have their second dose eight week after the first.
- Taking a rapid test twice a week to identify the one in three people with Covid without symptoms.
- Taking a test and self-isolating if you have symptoms of Covid-19.
- Reducing unnecessary contact with others indoors.
- Meeting people outdoors or in well-ventilated places if possible.
- Wearing a mask in crowded places – or where you can’t keep a distance.
- Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly
Chief Fire Officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Mr Strickland, said: “At Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, what is most important to us is being able to take your 999 calls and then sending the right resources out to help you, whether that’s a fire engine or one of our specialist rescue teams or vehicles.
“Although the majority of restrictions have been lifted this week, we would still urge people to exercise caution and think of others. At the moment the close contact isolation rule is still in place, so this poses a real risk to our ability to have enough firefighters and control room staff to maintain our normal level of service – one positive Covid result can mean a number of staff have to isolate for 10 days. This could mean a fire engine not having a crew.
“You can really help us ensure we can help you if you need it by being sensible and maintaining some of the prevention measures we’ve had in place for the last 16 months – things like using sanitiser, keeping your distance from others and wearing face masks in crowded areas or confined spaces. Cases of Covid in our communities are high again and increasing each week. We’ll be maintaining our Covid prevention measures and staff will continue to test regularly. If everyone does this, and gets both vaccinations, we can keep Cambridgeshire safe.”
Chief constable of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Mr Dean, said: “While legislation has changed, removing the vast majority of legal requirements, we know the biggest threat to all of our health is the spread of Covid 19 through close contact and failing to adhere to basic hygiene guidance such as wearing face coverings in crowded places.
“As an organisation we are continuing to wear our masks in the workplace and complying with other Covid secure measures. Importantly, as officers and staff are out and about dealing with members of the public, we will try to ensure we play our part in keeping people safe.
“We want to make sure we are keeping ourselves safe as well as reducing the risk to others; the only way to do this is by all of us playing our part and stepping up our personal responsibility at this critical time.
“Just because it is no longer the law, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't do the right thing and continue to follow the guidance we are all used to.”
Dr Howsam added: “Covid-19 has not gone away. Whilst the vaccination programme is helping the country to get back to normal, it is critically important that people come back for their second dose. The second dose of vaccine gives you the best possible protection against Covid-19, and you can have it any time from eight weeks after your first dose. I would strongly urge anyone who hasn’t yet had their second vaccination, or indeed their first, to get the jab as soon as they can as we see case numbers continue to rise again locally.
“We are also asking people to continue to wear masks, wash their hands and socially distance when visiting local NHS facilities. This is a critical line of defence against the spread of Covid and helps us to protect those who are most vulnerable from the disease.
“I want to thank everyone who has had their vaccination so far, and who has worn a face covering and followed advice on how to reduce the spread of Covid-19. All of your actions, no matter how small they may feel, are making a real difference, so please don’t stop now.
Mr Bailey, chief operating officer at East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST), said: “We would like to remind everyone that they can keep themselves safe and support the NHS by getting both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, following strict hand hygiene, continuing to socially distance and wearing masks where appropriate.
“We encourage people to use 999 wisely and choose the NHS service best suited for their needs.
“Please remember, urgent advice and help can be sought through www.111.nhs.uk or calling 111, or in a life-threatening emergency, people should call 999.”