Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, has today (15 September) set-out the preparations being made by health and social services in Wales for the great challenges they face this winter.
The Winter Protection Plan sets out how services will deal with the added challenge of COVID-19 to what is already a very busy time for health and social care.
Mr Gething said
We all know that winter is always a challenging time of the year for our health and social services. Let me be clear, the challenges this winter will be even greater, given the need to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and the resurgence of the virus over recent weeks.The next days and weeks will determine whether we have to move to introduce more significant measures to control the virus.
We must be prepared for the worst and the Winter Protection Plan sets out actions that are being taken in readiness across the health and social services. The plan highlights a number of now familiar areas, but also ones that are crucial to controlling the virus.
It is supported by the £800m NHS stabilisation package that was announced recently along with the additional funding being provided to Local Authorities and the care sector.
In addition to extra funding for schemes to reduce pressure on emergency departments, there are additional actions this year on stopping the spread of coronavirus and ensuring the NHS has enough capacity to deal with an increases in cases.
Increasing bed capacity, increased testing capacity, new ways of delivering services, use of technology and an expanded flu vaccination programme are all key elements in protecting the public from coronavirus.
The Minister added:
We can do all we can to ensure our frontline health and social care services are prepared for the winter but we also need the co-operation of the public to stop the spread of the virus and protect our most vulnerable.
Health and social care staff, as well as other key workers, work tirelessly to provide services and care for us. We in turn must all do our bit to fight the virus and to 'Keep Wales Safe', whether that be adhering to the rules, maintaining social distancing or practicing good hand hygiene.
People can also help reduce pressure on services this winter by thinking about where they can get treatment.
Pharmacies, NHS Direct, opticians, dentists, Minor Injury Units, health visitors, community nurses, midwives and GP practices, can all provide advice and treatment when looking after yourself at home isn't enough.
Mr Gething said:
Making the right choice not only helps you get the right care quickly but it also helps save the time of NHS staff, who will be working harder than ever this winter.
For serious and life-threatening emergencies call 999 or go to A&E. But if not, remember the other places where you can get advice and treatment.