Health services during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Health services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have made changes to the way they work to support hospital services and provide a safe working environment for staff and patients.

Local health organisations are continuing to provide services for patients in need of care and support. However, due to coronavirus, the way we provide health and care services has been adapted to ensure we are ready to respond to increased demand for patients needing care if they contract coronavirus.

This information has been put together to guide you through some of the changes to the way health services are being provided in the area during this pandemic.

Help prevent the spread of Coronavirus

When visiting local healthcare facilities, please follow Government guidance to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. Practice good hand hygiene and social distancing, and wear a face covering to protect yourself and others. Detailed advice on making and wearing a face covering is available on the Government website.

GP services

Telephone and online triage

If you need to access GP appointments during this time please phone your practice in the first instance or - where available - use their online consultation process via the practice's website.

GP Practices are having to work differently during the outbreak and have moved to a system of telephone, video or online triage in the first instance to help mitigate the risk of patients infected with coronavirus attending practices. If you need to be seen by a GP and your condition cannot be managed remotely you will be advised.

This temporary system will ensure anyone who needs to see a GP can, while prioritising patients with the greatest need.

Avoiding face-to-face appointments where possible

Every effort is being made to provide support away from practices, with face-to-face appointments only being made when absolutely necessary. Consultations will be carried out by alternative methods, such a telephone calls, video or online consultations.

However, we recognise there may be cases when face-to-face appointments are needed. You may in some cases be required to travel to a different practice than your own, as practices work together to meet the needs of the local population.

Services may be temporarily paused

During the pandemic some routine assessments and services normally provided through your GP may be temporarily unavailable, such as ear syringing, stop smoking clinics and appointments for mild self-limiting conditions.

Referrals into hospital

Referrals to hospital specialists for non-urgent conditions have now reopened. However due to the temporary suspension of routine referrals during the pandemic, there is now a backlog and you may have to wait longer for treatment. You will receive advice about how to self-manage your condition in the meantime, but if your condition significantly worsens you should contact your GP.

Urgent referrals are still operating as usual. However, these referrals will be triaged before being accepted. This restriction does not impact cancer referrals (often referred to as 'Two Week Waits') and HOT clinic referrals as these are being processed as usual. More details on 'Two Week Waits' during the coronavirus outbreak can be found on the link below.

Understanding Two Week Wait Urgent referrals and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information about Two Week Wait Urgent referrals during the corornavirus outbreak.

  • File type:pdf
  • File size:246.0 KB
  • Download

Referrals for X-Ray and imaging

If your GP has referred you for a non-urgent X-ray or imaging, you will now need contact the hospital trust to book an appointment in line with national guidance. Details of how to do this for North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust are available on the patient information forms below, along with further service information and contact details.

Community Services

Community services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have changed the way they work to support hospital services and provide a safe working environment for staff and patients.

Community services and face coverings

If you are visiting our Minor Injury Units, Urgent Treatment Centre or other clinical area of community services, please ensure you are wearing a face covering in line with government guidance. Read the Sirona care & health update on face coverings for more information.

Community Children’s Health Partnership (CCHP) services

The majority of face-to-face work in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire has been suspended during this time. Contact with families will take place over the telephone wherever possible.

Safeguarding medical assessments will continue to be carried out but they will move to Eastgate House instead of Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Sirona care & health is running a dedicated telephone advice and information service for families currently receiving care from CCHP teams. Details of this can be found on the CCHP website.

Diabetes services

The Sirona care & Health website has details of services for people with diabetes, including how to contact the diabetes community services for advice and guidance. The site also contains resources with advice and guidance for dealing with diabetes during the coronavirus outbreak.

Diabetes UK are also urging people not to let coronavirus fears stop them from seeking medical help if they're worried they, or their child, is showing the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Read the Diabetes UK news story to find out more.

Latest information

The Sirona care & health website will be regularly updated with any service changes taking place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mental health services

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) provides a range of mental health services across the area. Visit the Avon and Wiltshire Health Partnership (AWP) website for the latest updates on the impact of coronavirus on AWP services.

AWP have also set up a 24hour, seven-day-a-week telephone response line to provide advice, guidance and support over the phone to patients, families and carers, as well as members of the public who may be worried about their own or someone else's mental health.

The telephone line can be reached on 0300 3031320 and provides round-the-clock support for adults and children.

There is also a directory of support lines with specialist providers available on the NHS website and Public Health England have provided guidance on looking after mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.

24/7 Support & Connect

24/7 Support & Connect is a confidential helpline staffed by experienced counsellors, who you can talk to and they will listen. They will offer emotional support and can connect you to organisations available in Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire.

Call 0800 0126549 available 24/7.

Psychological therapies

Psychological therapy services have moved to fully remote delivery. This means that all Vita Health Group mental health services will be delivered either:

  • By telephone
  • Through video conferencing
  • Through webinars

Referrals can be generated as normal through the Vita Health self-referral page.

VitaMinds have also developed a series of coronavirus (COVID-19) specific resources to support the mental health of those in our local area.

Visit the Vita Health website for the latest information about psychological therapies services.

Guide to services

The Independent Mental Health Network has put together a guide with service updates and signposting information about mental health support services and organisations local to the area.

Hospital services

Hospitals and face coverings

Visitors and outpatients to hospital settings should wear a face covering in line with Government guidance, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Read our latest news update to find out more.

Patients with hospital appointments.

Hospital clinical teams are reviewing all outpatient appointments to see whether they need to go ahead at the planned time. If the appointment does need to go ahead you will be contacted and offered either a telephone or video appointment or, in exceptional circumstances, a face-to-face appointment. If you do not hear from your hospital please be assured that you remain on the appointments list and will be contacted as soon as our services fully return to normal.

Visitors to hospitals

There are restrictions in place for visitors and people accompanying you to hospital. Please consult your hospital's website for more information.

  • Visit North Bristol NHS Trust hospitals for information about visitors to Southmead Hospital, Cossham Hospital and other services.
  • Visit University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust hospitals website for information about the Bristol area and information about the Weston area.

Self-isolation before an operation

If you're having surgery or a procedure, in most cases you will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days before you go into hospital. This is important and will help to protect you, and others.

If a member of your household is accompanying you to the hospital or driving you to the hospital they must follow the self-isolation guidelines too. Where possible all members of your household should stay at home during this time as well.

While you are isolating and unable to leave your house, you should still remain as active as possible. Aim for at least 20 to 30 mins of activity a day.

Shortly before your operation you may need to have a test, to check if you have coronavirus before you go into hospital

Your hospital will contact you with more information about what you need to do.

Read more about preparing for an operation

Maternity Services

Pregnant woman are among the groups of people considered vulnerable during the pandemic. To help protect pregnant woman the local healthcare system is following national guidance, and has made some changes to the way maternity services operate.

Changes to maternity services

Births have been suspended at Ashcombe Birth Centre due to Community midwifery staffing levels. Services have moved to the outpatients department within Weston General Hospital.

Pregnant women will be contacted about the changes to maternity services across the area, which include:

  • Suspension of the home birth service
  • Only one birthing partner is able to attend the birth with the mother
  • Pregnant women must attend all face-to-face scans and tests alone, with the exception of the 12-week scan
  • Additional infection control measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as minimising non-essential face-to-face contacts in the community

Further information

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has more information on pregnancy and coronavirus.

Further updates and information is available on the North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust web pages.

Dental services

Although dental practices are now temporarily closed for routine check-ups, urgent dental treatment is available.

If you have an urgent dental need, contact your dental practice in the first instance. They will assess your need and book you an urgent appointment in centres in Bristol and Weston-super-Mare.

All NHS dental surgeries should continue to be accessible via phone, even though they are closed to the public. However, if you do not have a dentist or cannot contact your dentist, you should contact NHS 111.

Anyone who does not think they are getting the treatment they need via the urgent dental system may get in touch with NHS England’s Customer Care Centre, so their case can be investigated. Please call 0300 311 22 33 or contact england.contactus@nhs.net.

Volunteer support

NHS volunteer responders can now provide telephone support and help with collecting shopping or medicines and transport to and from medical appointments. You can submit a referral for someone that needs support or if you are in need of support you can self-refer. Call 0808 196 3382 or find more details on the NHS Volunteer Responders Portal.

Vulnerable and shielded patients

Many patients will have been written to by NHS England and Improvement informing them that they are on the extremely vulnerable list because they have conditions that place them at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Those at high risk include people suffering from certain cancers, severe respiratory conditions, or are recipients of solid organ transplants. If you're not sure whether you're at high risk, see who's at higher risk from coronavirus on the NHS website.

The government has updated its guidance for people who are extremely vulnerable, taking into account that coronavirus infection rates have decreased significantly. Visit GOV.UK for the latest guidance for extremely vulnerable people.

You can also view our Healthy Shielding Page for health and wellbeing advice and support for people who have been classed as being clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.

A&E, minor injuries and minor illnesses

A&E departments, minor injuries units and urgent treatment centres continue to be open across our area. However, we are urging residents to use the right services for your needs.

A&E departments remain open for both adults and children with serious or life threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness or severe persistent chest pain.

People with minor injuries such as sprains, cuts or burns are being asked to go to their local minor injuries unit for help, while those with minor illnesses are asked to contact their GP.

More information on minor injuries units in Yate and Clevedon and the Urgent Treatment Centre in Bristol is available on the Sirona care & health website.

If you’re not sure whether it’s an emergency, contact NHS 111 first to make sure you get the right care, first time.

Broadmead Walk-In Centre

The Walk-In Centre at Boots in Broadmead, Bristol has now closed until further notice. Staff from the centre have been redeployed to minor injuries units and other health care services to provide support during the coronavirus outbreak.

Pharmacy opening hours and support

Pharmacies are still open to dispense medicines and are continuing to provide advice on a wide-range of minor ailments. However, each pharmacy may have different arrangements in place to continue to allow access, such as a one-in one-out system.

Residents should not attend pharmacies in person if they are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, or if they live with anyone displaying coronavirus symptoms.

Some pharmacies in the area are operating different opening hours due to the coronavirus outbreak. Please check the opening hours of your local pharmacy before attending.

Coronavirus advice

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, including a new continuous cough, high temperature and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, please do not attend a minor injury unit, urgent treatment centre or your GP practice. You should stay home and self-isolate for 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should isolate for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

Information on who is eligible for a coronavirus test and how to get tested is available on the NHS website.

Other support

  • For urgent health care advice when you aren’t sure where to go, visit NHS 111 online
  • Every Mind Matters has expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.
  • The Health at home webpage gives you an overview of NHS services that are available during the outbreak. Including how to order repeat prescriptions online and get them delivered.