Open letter from Health and Care leaders in Gloucestershire

URGENT: please act to protect yourself, your communities and the NHS this winter

Dear Gloucestershire residents,

I am sure you will be aware by now of the expected surge in Omicron cases and the major risk this poses to public health and on the NHS and social care sector at an already pressured time.

We know that this variant is much more transmissible and a wave of Omicron through a large population that is ‘not boosted’ has the potential to lead to many more deaths and also overwhelm our services.

Early analysis by the UK Health Security Agency estimates that two doses of a vaccine gives limited protection against developing Omicron symptoms, but a booster dose raises it up to 75%.

This variant is spreading so quickly, it is likely that everyone will come into contact with an infected person in the next few weeks.

We are not saying this to scare people, but to signal a clear call to action to get your booster when offered and to protect yourself and protect vulnerable people across Gloucestershire.

The extent and impact of any Omicron COVID surge is to a large extent influenced by the choices and actions we take. It’s literally in our gift to save lives.

We are already learning more about the consequences of not getting vaccinated. Our hospital consultants reported this weekend that 100% of people on the critical care COVID unit were unvaccinated and this tells its own story.

Without collective action now to drive up booster vaccination rates and to embrace other preventative action this winter, the pressure on GP, community and hospital services and social care services from COVID-19 and demand for specialist emergency care will be profound.

It will also have a major knock on effect on sustained efforts to bring down waiting lists for planned operations, appointments, assessments and treatments as we prioritise those with the greatest and most serious care needs.

Here is how you can help:

  • Get your COVID-19 booster vaccination without delay when you get the offer. Find out how and keep in touch with developments at: Covid19.glos.nhs.uk (vaccination page)
  • Wear a face mask in enclosed public spaces, sanitise your hands regularly, practice social distancing and keep homes well ventilated. Please think very carefully about the nature and extent of any social gatherings you may be planning
  • Follow our top tips to Stay Well This Winter – including reaching out if you are worried about your mental health
  • If you are ill and injured, it’s not life threatening and you are unsure where to turn, Click or Call First. Use 111.nhs.uk or call 111. The 111 phone service can book you into local NHS services if needed. The local asapglos.nhs.uk website and ASAP Glos NHS App can also guide you through your care options
  • Please do everything you can, as a relative or carer of someone in hospital, to work with us to get patients home from hospital as quickly and as safely as possible, with additional support if necessary from your local NHS community services or adult social care teams.

Finally, please be kind and understanding to NHS and social care staff – they are giving their all to provide the very best care in unprecedented times and under huge pressure.

We have a fantastic tradition in Gloucestershire for coming together and doing the right thing when faced with adversity and we know that communities across our great county will do so once again.

Thank you for your support and we wish you and your families the best of health this festive season.

Yours sincerely

Mary Hutton
Accountable Officer
NHS Gloucestershire CCG
and ICS Lead
Deborah Lee
Chief Executive
Gloucestershire Hospitals     
NHS Foundation Trust
Paul Roberts
Chief Executive
Gloucestershire Health and Care
NHS Foundation Trust
Will Warrender CBE
Chief Executive
South Western Ambulance Service    
NHS Foundation Trust
Peter Bungard
Chief Executive
Gloucestershire County Council