A message from Fran McCabe, who reflects on the last year, and what it has meant to all of us
"The last time I gave out a message, I was sitting in my garden in the sunshine during the first lockdown. We have come a long way since then, with new treatments for those who get COVID-19 and vaccines here for many of us - or at least on the horizon. But it is still not normal, and I hope this Christmas you will be able to see those who are important to you.
Despite the awfulness, Healthwatch rallied around and we have been in contact with many more people than in previous years albeit by survey, and telephone, and even webinars. People have told us about their experiences of using general practice, dentistry, visiting relatives in care settings, cancer services, and how they feel about the increasing use of technology. I.T has meant that many of us have been able to keep in contact and have meetings, but it can be a mixed blessing and it is not the only answer for care, as many people need face-to-face contact about their ailments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how important health and social contact is, and how lucky we are to have the NHS, which is once again stepping up to the plate as COVID-19 cases rise again - and all the other front-line workers in care, education, and services who have had to work harder than ever over the year.
Thank you to Healthwatch Volunteers, Staff and Board, Young Healthwatch and all our colleagues in the health and social care services and the community. Everyone’s life has been affected this year. 2021 must be better- we have vaccines and even the prospect of better weather.
I hope you have a happy and healthy Christmas."
Healthwatch England has called for action to address widespread issues with access to NHS dental care following an unprecedented surge in concerns. Click here to read more.
The Healthwatch network experienced a 452% increase in feedback on the issue of dentistry in the second quarter of the year, with continuing accounts of people being left in pain, resorting to ‘DIY’ repair methods, and in some cases even extracting their own teeth.
A review of over 1,300 people’s experiences of accessing dental care from 43 local Healthwatch found that 73% of people found it difficult to access dental services, with 47% of people dissatisfied with the service they received, compared to 11% who were satisfied.
Read about the impacts caused by COVID-19 here.
Services over Christmas and New Year, and tips for staying well this winter
The NHS Stay Well This Winter campaign can help you prepare for winter. The website contains lots of useful information and advice.
We have created a page on the Healthwatch website which provides information and links to a variety of services that are open over the festive period. We will be regularly updating this page.
Brighton and Hove remains in Tier 2 “High Alert”.
On 17th December the government confirmed that Brighton and Hove would remain in Tier 2 - High Alert. Please refer to this government poster below for information about what you are and are not allowed to do. The Brighton and Hove City Council website also has this information. Cases in our city have once again begun to increase, and Alistair Hill, Director of Public Health for our City is asking everyone to do everything possible to stop COVID from spreading further.
Meeting friends and family this Christmas
One in three people with coronavirus (COVID-19) have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it. So the safest way to celebrate Christmas this year is with your household or existing support bubble in your home. The more people you see, the more likely it is that you will catch or spread coronavirus.
Brighton currently remains in Tier 2 "High Alert" which means that you may see a maximum of two other households (your ‘Christmas bubble’) on Christmas Day (25 December). You cannot see anyone from a Tier 4 area, unless you are in an existing support bubble.
Before, and after, Christmas Day you must continue to follow the rules for Tier 2: High alert
Click on these links for further information:
There are no special rules for meeting up for New Years, and you should follow the Tier 2: High alert rules.
Last week marked a crucial step in the fight against COVID-19 with the roll-out of vaccines to frontline staff and the most vulnerable at the Royal Sussex County Hospital. This week, GP-led local vaccination services began delivering the vaccine in Brighton, and across Sussex.
Healthwatch has worked closely with Sussex NHS Commissioners, and colleagues in East and West Sussex, to gather more information about how the vaccine will be rolled out. We have created a dedicated webpage which contains the latest information, which you can access here. We have also replicated this information in the separate document attached to this email.
We are sharing your questions with Sussex NHS Commissioners so that they can update their guidance which we will in turn share with you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org