HEALTH bosses in Wirral are assuring people in need of emergency and urgent care during the coronavirus pandemic that they can still access local services.
The advice, which only applies to those who do not have symptoms of Covid-19, is in response to a sharp fall in referrals for treatment and investigations for conditions like cancer, which may result in patients being diagnosed later, decreasing their chances of survival and placing extra unnecessary strain on the NHS.
General practice, dentists, pharmacies, NHS 111 and accident and emergency departments in the area are operating for those who need them, and extra measures have been put in place to ensure that those attending medical settings are not put at risk of contracting the disease.
An urgent mental health helpline has also been set up across Wirral to further improve access to mental health support.
The dedicated phone number, 0300 303 3972, should now be everyone’s first port of call for urgent mental health help.
It is operated by NHS Trust, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (CWP), run by local NHS staff who can connect people experiencing mental health issues with the best local support.
Dr Nicola Stevenson, executive medical director at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, said: "It's important that anyone who does not have COVID-19 symptoms still uses our services and attends our Emergency Department if they are in need of urgent care.
"We are open for urgent treatments for stroke, heart conditions and trauma injuries, as well as our maternity services.
"If you need treatment for a non-COVID-19 urgent condition, it's vital you come to hospital.
"Those with urgent conditions that are not related to COVID-19 symptoms, should continue to attend the Emergency Department at Arrowe Park Hospital and in an emergency should call 999.
"People who feel they may have COVID-19 symptoms should visit NHS 111 online in the first instance."
Dr Simon Delaney, medical director at NHS Wirral CCG, said: "People should not ignore symptoms or put off seeking medical help for illnesses not related to coronavirus.
"GP practices in Wirral have introduced safety measures to protect patients and staff.
"You can continue to get a GP appointment by telephone or by using the practice website to access electronic consultations.
"Your GP will arrange a face to face appointment if they think it’s necessary.
"Repeat prescriptions can be requested online, or by using the NHS App.
"Please do not attend your GP practice in person unless advised to do so by practice staff."