‘We are ready’ - NHS staff gear up for festive season at Harrogate Hospital
Despite the Christmas pressures and challenges for Harrogate’s NHS services, the message from the medical professionals is that it’s business as usual for patients, thanks to months of careful planning.
Lead emergency department consultant for Harrogate District Hospital, Dr Matt Shepherd, said all staff are prepped and ready for the Christmas rush, and has outlined a number of helpful, simple measures that residents can take to help reduce waiting times and the strain on resources.
He said: “A message to get across is that the emergency department really is for emergencies. If you are not sure whether you should come to hospital or not, go online or ring 111, and a professional will take you through a series of questions to get you to the right place and give you advice.
“Flu has been a particular challenge this year, it’s come earlier. If people have been offered a flu vaccine and have not had one yet, it’s not too late.”
Dr Shepherd said that six to eight months of careful planning goes into managing the festive period, and has praised all staff for their efforts. He said: “Work will be slightly more relentless than normal, but we are used to the Christmas period, and we are ready for it. A lot of effort goes into planning and making sure that the staffing cover is adequate. A big thank you must go to all of the staff who are working over Christmas.”
As temperatures plummet for winter, Dr Shepherd said it’s also very important to look out for neighbours due to the heightened risk of falls and susceptibility to breaking bones.
GP Bruce Willoughby, who is a member of the NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG’s governing body, echoed the value of using the 111 number in the event of a non-emergency, and stressed that GP practices across Harrogate will be open during the festive period apart from Bank Holidays.
He said: “The 111 service gets people to the right place quicker and helps to relieve some of the Christmas pressure on emergency departments.
“Another thing to bear in mind, is if you are on regular medication, make sure you don’t run out of it.
“We work very well together and not in isolation to manage pressures over Christmas.”