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Public Health leaders urging public to stay at home, to fight COVID and reduce extreme pressure on hospitals

Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones has joined her colleagues across the region to urge people to follow by the latest lockdown rules and stay at home.

The plea from Directors of Public Health, who are leading the local public health response to COVID, comes as COVID cases have alarmingly increased in communities putting NHS hospitals under extreme pressure.

Essential reasons

Under the rules, people are strongly requested to stay at home and only leave the house for essential reasons such as getting a COVID test, food shopping, work, education, exercise or helping someone vulnerable. A full list of what is permitted is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Ian Ashworth, current Chair of the Cheshire & Merseyside Directors of Public Health Board said, “The next few weeks are going to be extremely difficult and it will be some time until we see the impact of the lockdown take effect. People need to stay at home as much as possible. Only shop when necessary. Exercise away from other people. If you cannot work from home and have a symptom free test centre in your area, get tested regularly so you can self-isolate before symptoms show. We are working hard with health and government partners to speed up and unblock barriers to the rollout of the vaccine for the most vulnerable groups but this will not happen overnight. We now have a number of licensed vaccines which will mean more vaccines becoming available locally. In the meantime, we need people to double their efforts to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

Vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccination programme has seen over a million vulnerable people and those that care for them vaccinated so far. Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and an effective vaccine is the best way to protect people from COVID. Members of the public will be invited by the NHS when it’s their turn for a vaccination and it is important that everyone who is offered the vaccine takes it to protect themselves and others. Directors urge those waiting for their vaccine to be patient and not contact the NHS or their GP surgery as it will take time for the vaccine to be rolled out to all priority groups.

If residents follow the rules and stay at home, then lockdown restrictions will end sooner and people can look forward to better times ahead. Directors would like to thank everyone who has been doing their bit for so long, and understand they desperately wish to see an end to the restrictions, but it’s more important than ever that people now put in that extra effort to keep friends, family and communities safe.

Symptoms

If you develop symptoms of COVID (fever, new continuous cough or loss/change of taste or smell) you can obtain a test by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119. If your test is positive you must follow the guidance including self-isolating immediately. More information on self-isolating can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

Anyone needing support during this difficult time should visit www.kindtoyourmind.org which has details of 24/7 crisis helplines and resources to help mental wellbeing.

Find out more information about COVID-19 in Sefton.

New talking therapies provider launches service to support thousands across Sefton

Mental Health Matters (MHM) has successfully launched Talking Matters Sefton. Talking Matters Sefton is the new name for the support service that borough residents can access for help with their mental wellbeing.

Developed in partnership with NHS South Sefton and NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Groups, the service ensures that patients can continue to access high-quality talking therapies as conveniently as possible, which is more important than ever in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impact on mental wellbeing.

Talking Matters Sefton (TMS) is designed to help anyone aged over 16 in the borough, to deal with common mental health difficulties. These may include depression, anxiety, panic, phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder. Staffed by a team of highly skilled mental health professionals, the service is focused on delivering a person-centred approach to help people achieve positive outcomes.

Individuals looking to access support from the service can self-refer online, via email, or over the phone. Referrals can also be made through a Sefton GP.

Those that were accessing the previous talking therapies service have been contacted to confirm that they can expect a consistent level of care and continuity of support.

Victoria Malone, Head of Talking Matters at MHM, said: “We are proud to be running Talking Matters Sefton and to be able to support those in need. Our priorities are to deliver a high-quality service to those already accessing support and to reach out to people across the community, to ensure that residents know that we are here to help during difficult times”.

 

Dr Hilal Mulla, mental health lead for NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “Mental Health Matters has worked hard to ensure that existing patients won’t notice any difference to the high quality of support they receive from professionals as a result of the organisation taking over the running of our talking therapies service on 1 January, so services continue to be there for our residents when they need them.”

Dr Sue Gough, mental health lead for NHS South Sefton CCG, added: “Talking therapies provide a range of support for our residents who’re experiencing common mental health issues and these services are particularly important as we deal with the impact of COVID-19.

“We would encourage anyone experiencing things like stress, anxiety or depression to make contact with Talking Matters Sefton, it’s easy to do and the skilled team of professionals can really help.”

Mental Health Matters is a third sector organisation providing a wide range of support to people with mental health needs offering a welcoming, safe, comfortable, non-judgmental, and non-clinical environment.

MHM has experience in successfully delivering IAPT services for over 12 years and continue to leverage their wealth of experience and clinical best practice to expand services and reach more patients in need.

Learn more: https://www.mhm.org.uk/

Help with taking steps towards a healthier 2021

On Friday 1st January, a new talking therapies service is launching to help anyone aged over 16 in the South Sefton, Southport and Formby areas to deal with common mental health difficulties.

Talking Matters Sefton has been developed in partnership with the CCGs to offer easy access to high-quality talking therapies. You can self-refer online or by phone, or your GP can make a referral. The Covid-19 pandemic has made 2020 an incredibly challenging year for us all. With the vaccine rollout underway, we have reason to be hopeful for 2021. By making some small changes, you can get the New Year off to a healthier start and take control of your wellbeing.

Statistics show that a quarter of patients who died with coronavirus in England had diabetes, and people who are overweight or smoke are also at much higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the disease.

Margaret Jones, Director of Public Health for Sefton, said: “This year has been tough for everyone, and it hasn’t always been easy for any of us to stay motivated or make healthy choices. If you want to make a change, you do not have to do it alone. Living Well Sefton is a free service that can support you in living a healthier lifestyle. You can call them on 0300 323 0181 or e-mail LWS@seftoncvs.org.uk.”

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Making changes to your lifestyle can feel overwhelming at times, and sometimes it might feel easier to just do nothing. There is plenty of support available and making little adjustments, such as exercising more, eating a healthier diet and quitting smoking really can have a big impact on how you feel. It isn’t just about looking after your body, living a healthier life can boost your mental health too. If you’re feeling low, getting active could make a huge difference to your mood.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Making changes to your lifestyle can not only help improve your physical and mental health, but it can also help protect you from becoming seriously unwell with Covid-19. Consider taking a Vitamin D supplement during the winter months, as it is difficult to get enough of that during the shorter daylight hours. Vitamin D helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies – needed for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, combined with getting active and staying connected with people can all help to improve your health – both physically and mentally.”

Information and support:

  • Living Well Sefton is a free service supporting people in Sefton with issues that may be affecting their health and wellbeing.
  • Talking Matters Sefton (launching 1 January 2021) provides talking therapies to anyone aged over 16 living in Sefton.
  • NHS Live Well and NHS Better Health offer support and resources to help you make the best choices about your health and wellbeing.
  • Every Mind Matters and One You offer expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental and physical health

Residents & Visitors urged to get a SMART COVID test today and help stop the spread in Sefton

SMART COVID-19 testing for people who DON’T have coronavirus symptoms 

Targeted, SMART COVID-19 testing for residents and visitors form other areas who DON’T have COVID-19 symptoms is now taking place in walk-through centres at:

  • Splash World in Southport*
  • Bootle Leisure Centre
  • Aintree Racecourse.

Each site is open from 9am to 6pm every day apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Monday 28th December and New Year’s Day. No appointments necessary so you can just turn up.

Use the live map to find out details and how busy each site is. 

*Please use rear car park of Dunes/Splashworld, accessible from the Esplanade, opposite the Lifeboat Station.

SMART testing will identify if you have COVID-19 but don’t know it because you don’t have symptoms. You will get your result in 30 minutes.
(People who have had a positive coronavirus in the past 90 days should not attend.)

Getting a test  will help stop you accidentally passing it on to your friends, family, colleagues, clients or customers, who might be vulnerable.

SMART testing will also help contract tracing and the identification of potential infection hotspots.

You can find our SMART testing FAQs here. 

We spoke to Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health about SMART testing.

You can read transcript of what Margaret Jones told us about SMART testing. 

 

Frontline services

With 10,000 tests available to Sefton each week, the Council is encouraging those who work in frontline services, work with vulnerable residents and schools staff to come forward for testing. Sefton’s three SMART testing centres have been set up and run by the military but after today, Friday 11th December, their operation will transfer to specially recruited and trained Council staff.  In the future, the Council will also be looking at setting up mobile or pop-up sites.

When SMART testing was launched Margaret Jones said: “The roll-out of this testing will help to identify people who have the COVID-19 virus but not the symptoms and drive down the R-number in Sefton and the City Region.

“Initially, we are focusing the available resources on groups where we have identified testing will have the greatest effect in reducing transmission and protecting vulnerable people and the frontline staff who work with them.

“Plus, the results will feed into the local contract tracing and will help us identify where hotspots of infections might be emerging.

“We have to remember though, a negative result is not a free pass to ignoring the Tier 2 restrictions we are all following. A negative test result means people are not infectious on that day but that can change, which is why we will be repeating tests with our target groups.

“And, of course it’s vital that anybody who does develop the coronavirus symptoms self isolates and calls 119 or visits www.nhs.uk/coronavirus immediately to book a test.”

Anyone who shows a positive result after their SMART Test will then be advised on isolating and making an appointment for a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test that will confirm whether they have the virus

Sefton residents who don’t have coronavirus symptoms can also use Liverpool test sites to get a test. Details of how and where people can get a test are at https://liverpool.gov.uk/communities-and-safety/emergency-planning/coronavirus/how-to-get-tested/symptom-free-testing/

Find out more about testing in Sefton in December.

 

 

 

Live map now shows Sefton’s SMART COVID testing site details including likely waiting times

Bootle Map
Details of Bootle Leisure Centre SMART testing site shown on location map.

Sefton residents with NO coronavirus symptoms planning on getting a COVID-19 test can now find details of the Borough’s SMART test sites on a live map.

As well as showing the precisely location of the Bootle Leisure Centre, Southport Splash World and Aintree Racecourse sites, the NHS Find a Test Centre map also gives an indication of how busy they are and the likely waiting time. At the moment, they are all showing green with a waiting time of less than 15 minutes but if they get busier, Sefton Council will update the map to help people make a choice.

Check out the Live map here.

Details of Aintree racecourse SMART testing site shown on location map.
Details of Aintree racecourse SMART testing site shown on location map.

Each site is open from 9am to 6pm every day apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Monday 28th December and New Year’s Day. No appointments are necessary so people can just turn up.

SMART tests identify if people have COVID-19 but don’t know it because they don’t have symptoms. Results take just 30 minutes to come through.

Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones has described getting a SMART test before Christmas as a way to reduce the chance of passing on the COVID-19 virus to relations who may be vulnerable to what is still a dangerous virus over Christmas.

Details of Southport Splash World SMART testing site shown on location map.
Details of Southport Splash World SMART testing site shown on location map.

She said she understand why people might be reluctant to get a test because a positive result will spoil our Christmas but it’s a question of weighing up a few days’ disappointment against the possibly devastating effects of knowing we’ve given COVID-19 to an elderly or vulnerable relative for whom infection could be very serious and even life-threatening.

“Get a test before getting together,” she added.

Read Margaret Jones’ comments in full.

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