Bristol MP's plea as city faces 'one of toughest winters in NHS history'

Thangam Debbonaire is calling for support to recruit more staff and 'improve' the vaccination programme. Credit: PA

A Bristol MP has written to Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid to ask for help ahead of what she's described as "one of the toughest winters in NHS history."

Bristol's health and care system is now in its highest state of alert (known as Opel 4), reflecting the level of pressure being felt across NHS hospitals, GP practices, community and mental health services and social care.

Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West, says these "unprecedented" pressures come from Covid, flu, staff shortages and the growing backlog of life-saving treatments.

She also accused the government of 'muddying' the message on Covid - "leaving the public confused and healthcare staff demoralised."

In the letter, Thangam Debbonaire asked the Health Secretary to commit to 'effective' public messaging, assistance with 'workforce difficulties' and the 'problems with social care.'

The Labour MP also urged the public to act responsibly, she said: "With many aspects of life seeming 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."

Thangam Debbonaire

"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."