Christmas is just around the corner and the festive season is in full swing. More than two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across Norfolk and Waveney since the start of the vaccination programme and community support for the NHS continues to beam from local communities.

The Norfolk and Waveney health and care system appreciates every single offer of support that patients and members of the public have given so far and this support continues to flood in.

Health and care staff continue to meet the huge demand and challenges of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and thousands are taking part in helping to administer hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of weeks.

Despite the enormous challenges linked to the COVID-19 vaccination, our hospitals across Norfolk and Waveney remain extremely busy and with Christmas around the corner, the Norfolk and Waveney health and care system is asking relatives and friends of patients who are safe to be discharged from wards, to help get people home where they are safer, can recover better and enjoy time with loved ones over the festive period.

In many cases, people are ready to be discharged and well enough to leave hospital, but unfortunately cannot be discharged due to a change in circumstances with their health and care needs, such as mobility or receiving low level support to care for themselves whilst they recover.

While some people awaiting discharge from hospital have complex care needs, all of whom will have appropriate care put in place, others may benefit from simple support from family and friends.

The Norfolk and Waveney health and care system is reaching out once again to everyone who has supported the NHS over the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling on friends, families and carers of individuals that are ready to leave hospital to support them on their recovery journey in time for them to join loved ones at Christmas. Hospital teams, as well as social workers, are able to liaise with families, relatives and carers to ensure that appropriate support is in place whilst long-term options are considered.

Cath Byford, Chief Nurse, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The local health and care system is working flat out to care for some very sick patients. As a result of safe, effective, compassionate care, many people are able to be discharged from hospital, but due to a number of reasons, cannot go home as temporary arrangements and support may not be in place.

“Friends, families and carers of individuals ready to leave hospital can help get people home quicker. No-one wants to say in hospital longer than they need to so if you are a family member of friend and feel you can help, please speak with the nurse in charge.”

The Norfolk and Waveney health and care system is especially busy with staff redeployed to respond to the threat of Omicron and vaccination sites operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Health and care staff, volunteers and reservists are working tirelessly to help vaccinate as many people as possible before the end of the year in line with the Government’s target to offer everyone over 18 a booster jab by the end of the ear.

Everyone can help play their part in supporting the health and care system in various different ways. With this in mind, Health chiefs are calling on friends, families and carers of relatives who are ready and safe to be discharged from hospital to lend a helping hand to the NHS to get people home sooner.

James Bullion, Executive Director of Adult Social Services, Norfolk County Council, said: “We are doing everything we can to help people we support get home after a stay in hospital.

“Most people can go home – whether that’s the family home, a care home or supported living setting. But some people need some further support for a few days, and if they can’t get this, then they are having to stay in hospital.

“So any families that can help in these circumstances will make a real difference in helping someone to come out of hospital in time for Christmas.”

People are also encouraged to do their bit in using the right service for their health and care needs. The Norfolk and Waveney ‘Give Your NHS a Hand’ winter campaign provides helpful information on what you can do to stay healthy during the winter period and if you do need help and support, includes information about the range of different services appropriate for your health and care needs.