Looking after your health

In my role as director of public health for the city, I’ve seen first-hand the professional and determined response to the coronavirus pandemic from colleagues at all levels in many different organisations.

Local health and care staff have worked round the clock to help those who’ve become ill with coronavirus. The care sector has also rightly been recognised for the vital work being done to prevent the spread of the virus among some of our most vulnerable residents.

Thank you

Each Thursday we take a moment in the evening to stop at 8pm and show our appreciation for those working so hard during the pandemic.

What started out as a ‘Clap for the NHS’ has become much wider to include care workers, volunteers and key frontline staff such as cleaners, shop staff, teachers, nursery staff, childminders, postal services, refuse teams, community pharmacies and many more. 

While most of us are being asked to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, others are working in our communities to keep our services and supplies available.

I’ll be on my doorstep again at 8pm this evening to show my appreciation.

Seek treatment if you need it

At the same time as the focus has been on coronavirus, health services have also been making sure they can provide health care for medical needs unrelated to Covid-19.

Doctors surgeries are taking appointments. Many are doing initial consultations by video call. Ongoing treatments are in most cases continuing, with the decisions being made on a case by case basis and in the patients’ best interests.

If you have any medical issues, you should seek help. 

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should not go into a medical practice or hospital unless told to do so, instead check online for information or call for advice in the first instance.

Medical practitioners and hospitals are taking careful measures to prevent infection.

The NHS advice is:

  • If you need medical help from your GP practice, contact them either online, by an app or by phone to be assessed
  • If you need urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service
  • If you cannot get help online, call 111
  • If it’s a serious or life-threatening emergency, call 999
  • If you are told to go to hospital it is important that you go to hospital
  • You should continue to attend your appointments, unless you have been told not to attend 

For mental health you can also contact Community Roots, which is a network of local services committed to supporting good mental health and wellbeing in Brighton & Hove. You can reach Community Roots online or freephone 0808 196 1768.

The NHS has reported a drop in the number of people seeking medical help for symptoms that might indicate cancer or heart issues.

This is concerning because delaying seeking medical help does not make a problem go away and can have serious consequences for both physical and mental health. 

Entering the next phase

This week we’ve been hearing about possible easing of the current restrictions and the government is expected to make a statement about the next phase at some point over the Bank Holiday weekend. 

For this long weekend ahead, it is really important that we follow the current advice around physical distancing, only travelling when essential and enjoying up to one hour exercise outside our home alone or with household members.

Whatever the new rules allow, we are all going to need to continue to consider our actions and how best to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. 

For example, at the council we’re asking all staff to continue with their current working arrangements until we can look at how the next phase can be safely introduced in the workplace.

We do not want to risk raising the infection rate and once again putting the NHS and the care sector at risk.

It’s been a strange few months and we have uncertain times ahead. But through everything I have been heartened by the compassion, dedication and expertise of so many people in Brighton & Hove. 

Alistair Hill
Brighton & Hove City Council Director of Public Health

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