1 January 2022
Help us to help you this New Year – Norfolk and Waveney’s health and care system under pressure

With health and care services in Norfolk and Waveney under unprecedented pressure, people are being urged to use services wisely and to look after themselves and others this New Year and over the bank holiday.

Health leaders have thanked local people for the many ways they have responded to the pressures on our health and care services in 2021 and are urging the public to continue to help us to help you.

Health and care workers across Norfolk and Waveney continue to work tirelessly together to keep services running to support us all, our loved ones, our neighbours, and our communities.

Winter is always a time of pressure for NHS services and even more so this year with the threat of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

It is really important people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell. However, with local health services increasingly stretched people are being urged to only attend an Emergency Department if it’s absolutely necessary. The best way to get the medical help you need is to think NHS 111 first. Phone NHS 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk for anything that feels urgent, or if you are unsure what to do. They can direct you to the most appropriate place. In life-threatening emergencies dial 999.

There is high demand for all health and care services, and we are preparing for further increases in the number of Covid cases locally. It is vital we keep beds in our acute hospitals free for people needing urgent and emergency treatment, our community hospitals free to provide continuing care, and our ambulances on the road able to respond to emergency calls.

Cath Byford, Chief Nurse at NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“Our local health and care services are facing some of the most significant and sustained pressures they have faced in recent years.

“We are seeing large numbers of very unwell people requiring 999 ambulance services and urgent hospital care. This is resulting in delays in ensuring some patients already admitted to hospital and who are ready to leave can do so, and the ongoing restrictions and reductions in our bed numbers brought about by COVID-19 is creating additional pressure. We are also seeing an increase in seasonal illnesses such as flu and the winter vomiting bug.

“During this time our first priority has to be providing the most urgent and lifesaving care. This means that many patients in less urgent need of care may have to wait longer than we would like.

“We apologise to those patients and ask for their understanding during this time of exceptional pressures.

“Our NHS remains open for business and it is vitally important that if people have serious conditions or concerns they seek help and in a serious medical emergency, such as symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, that they call 999.”


Ms Byford praised health and care staff who have been working tirelessly in exceptionally difficult services, many having given up time with their families over Christmas and New Year to help ensure local patients get the care they need.

“We are incredibly busy, but thanks to the tireless work of our amazing staff and well-rehearsed operational plans we continue to provide care to all those who need it,”

she said.

Ms Byford urged people to exercise caution and look after themselves this New Year, adding:

“If you’re celebrating the New Year, whether out with friends or at home, please know your alcohol limits and stay safe. Please remember to drink sensibly, stay safe and don’t stretch our already hard-pressed A&E staff to the limit.”

James Bullion, Executive Director of Adult Social Services, Norfolk County Council, said:

“I’d like to thank the families, neighbours and care workers who continue to do a fantastic job over this holiday period of caring for and looking out for vulnerable people especially as the spread of Omicron has added to the normal Winter pressures in organising support.

“Protecting people who use our social care services is vital as the challenges presented by Omicron continue into January and we will need further strong support from family carers, care providers and our community volunteers to keep everyone safe.

“We ask for patience, understanding and help from families and the public during the next few weeks, and for all those who can to look out for vulnerable people in their neighbourhood to be our eyes and ears.”

Marcus Bailey, chief operating officer at the East of England Ambulance Service, said:

“We need the public’s help more than ever given the sustained pressures on our services and the healthcare system in Norfolk.

“We are asking the public to use our services wisely and only call 999 for life-threatening emergencies.

“You can also help us by not making multiple calls about the same incident or patient and only calling back if there is a significant deterioration in the patient’s condition. Please also be patient and stay on the line if the call is not put through immediately to the call handler.”

There are a number of ways you can help us to help you.

Support loved ones to leave hospital

Please collect loved ones from hospital as soon as they are ready to leave, either from the Emergency Department or from wards, to free up beds for patients needing emergency care. If you need help managing your loved ones at home, let us know and we will do all we can to support you.

Choose services wisely

The best way to get the medical help you need is to think NHS 111 first. Phone NHS 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk for anything that feels urgent, or if you are unsure what to do. They can direct you to the most appropriate place. In life-threatening emergencies dial 999. Pharmacists can give expert and speedy help with minor ailments. They can also provide over the counter remedies for minor health conditions.

Get your COVID-19 jab

Around 90% of those currently in hospital with serious complications from COVID-19 are unvaccinated. The evidence is clear. Not getting vaccinated against Covid puts you at greater risk of serious illness and death. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your friends as we head in to 2022, whether it be a first, second or booster dose. It also means that you are much less likely to end up in a hospital bed that could otherwise be used to treat someone else. Make an appointment via the NHS national booking service online at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or call 119 (free), between 7am and 11pm seven days a week or you can attend an advertised walk-in site, which can be found at https://apps.norfolk.gov.uk/WalkIn/ 

Please help us by cancelling your appointment if you no longer need it to free it up for someone else. There are plenty of appointments available, but please be patient and be kind to our NHS staff.

Keep safe – if we all work together, we will keep everyone we love safe

We should continue to wear face coverings in public and crowded settings, wash our hands, keep rooms ventilated, get tested regularly and isolate if you or anyone else at home has symptoms of COVID-19.Do not visit your GP, pharmacy, our hospitals, care homes, or schools if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Remember all services are available online or by phone. Protect yourself and others this winter by getting the flu vaccine and practice good hygiene this winter like washing your hands frequently.

Look after your mental health

We know that the festive season can be a challenging time for some people. Help is available for anyone including those who want to talk to someone. If you need urgent mental health support, please call First Response on 0808 196 3494. First Response are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Don’t be reckless

Most people are looking forward to enjoying New Year with friends and relatives. At this time of year our hospitals and minor injury units are traditionally busy with revellers who have had drunken accidents. Please help us by keeping safe and keeping our hospitals and emergency services free to focus on caring for people who really need our help. We’re all in this together and only by working together and supporting each other and our services can we keep each other and our health and care provision safe and available for all.