Our healthcare system in Bristol is under unprecedented pressure from Covid, flu, staff shortages and a huge backlog of life-saving treatments pushing every part of the health system. I’ve written today to the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid to ask him to do everything possible to ease the situation urgently.

This includes fixing the stalling Covid vaccination programme, resolving the immediate crisis in social care and recruiting desperately-needed staff. The government must also get better at communicating public health messages. The Prime Minister and other ministers have often muddied the message on Covid, leaving the public confused and healthcare staff demoralised.

With many aspects of life seem to be back to normal, it is easy to forget Covid is still killing hundreds and hospitalising many more every week.

I know we are all grateful for the hard work and huge sacrifices made by Bristol’s NHS and care staff over the last couple of years. From my regular conversations with Bristol’s senior health officials, I hear staff are exhausted and working hard to cover staffing gaps, just as we go into one of the toughest winters in NHS history. They need our help and I’m calling on everyone to do their bit.

There are things we can all do to take the pressure off the health care system. If you are unwell, please call or use online 111 if it is not life threatening. Look out for friends and neighbours who need extra support, as we all did throughout 2020. Be prepared to care for family members and others who are discharged from hospital and co-operate with the health and social care services to do this. And please get vaccinated against flu and Covid-19. If you are over 50, please book and get your Covid booster as soon as possible.

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