COVID-19: Answering your questions

Thank you to everyone who has shared their feedback with us about how the pandemic has affected them, and what they feel they need to know about during this difficult time.

We sent out 4 surveys to the community to hear people’s views. Our team sent out newsletters, emails and social media posts to over 3000 people!

We are working closely with all our national and local partners in the voluntary and statutory sector to ensure the information we share is regularly updated with the latest trusted advice and guidance. Click here to see our priorities during the outbreak.

What you wanted to find out

We asked people to share their views about how the pandemic affected them, both physically and mentally. We also asked about how access to services and care had been affected.

Over 200 people informed us of what they wanted to know that wasn’t covered in government advice, for example, what to do in a dental emergency, how to find out about changes to their usual healthcare services and what help there is for those without internet access. 

We will share this feedback with local services to help review how local and national authorities handled the pandemic, and how they can improve for the future.

We are happy to share this advice to you:

Question: What do I do in a dental emergency?

If you think you need urgent dental treatment:

Find the full advice here.

If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 999.  

Question: What changes are happening/expected to dental services?

Dental practices in England have been told they can reopen from Monday, 8 June, if they put in place appropriate safety measures.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned patients to expect a “skeleton service” due to a shortage of personal protective equipment.

The BDA said that while dentists would be relieved by the announcement, the ability of practices to reopen would depend on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Ian Biggs, the director of Primary care at NHS England South West, said it was critical emergency patients were able to receive the necessary care.

Click here to keep up to date with the latest changes to dental services on the BBC website.

Click here to see changes to how dental practices visits will operate from June 8th.

Question: How do I find out about changes to healthcare services I usually access?

GP practices:

GP practises in Devon remain open during the coronavirus pandemic.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus there have been changes to GP appointments.

But it’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it.

You can contact your GP surgery by:

– visiting their website

– using the NHS App

– calling them

You can also order repeat prescriptions online.

Only visit a GP surgery if you have been told to.

Visit your surgery’s website for more info, and click here to find out what health services you can access online.

Find out about using the NHS and other health services during coronavirus.

Pharmacies:

To prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), changes have been made to how you get medicines and advice from a pharmacy at the moment.

Try to call your pharmacy or contact them online before going in person.

You can order repeat prescriptions online.

Do not go to a pharmacy if:

  • you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • you live with someone who has symptoms
  • you’re at high risk from coronavirus

Get your medicines delivered or ask someone to collect them.

You can check the latest details about your pharmacy on their website. Click here to find a pharmacy near you.

Hospital Outpatient appointments and changes to patient services:

Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

Hospital Outpatient appointments

Important information for patients

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Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust

Hospital Outpatient appointments

Important information for patients

Community Nursing:

When you are referred to the community nursing service you will be advised on how to contact your team.

If those accessing community nursing have had changes to their care during the pandemic, their nursing team will have been in contact with information about this.

Question: What help is there for those without internet access?

If you know someone without internet access, you pass on the list of useful phone numbers we have collated (below), or even become a volunteer yourself and help your local community. 

Find out about volunteering in Devon:

Devon Voluntary Action (DeVA)

Exeter Community Wellbeing

NHS Volunteer Responders

You can contact us if you know anyone vulnerable without access to online services. We have already signposted people on to help them during this difficult time. Give us a call on 0800 520 0640, email info@healthwatchdevon.co.uk, or visit our contact page.

If you would like to pass on information to a person without internet access, here are some useful numbers:

Help for extremely vulnerable people who need urgent support

If you have received an NHS extremely vulnerable letter, registered for support on the government website but you have not received a food delivery, or you need other help because you are isolated please call the Devon Coronavirus Emergency Helpline:

Call 0345 155 1011 (open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday 9am-1pm)

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If you are not already receiving support but need urgent help because of the coronavirus pandemic

If you need urgent help because of the coronavirus pandemic but don’t have any family, friends or neighbours to ask and are not receiving support directly from government, local authority or community services, you can contact your local district council.

They each have individual helplines set up to make it easier for you to get help with things like deliveries of essential food, household supplies and medicine as well as extra care and social contact.

Depending on what you need, they will be able to help you organise support through either their local hub, the NHS volunteer responder scheme or a local community group.

Emergency financial support is also available for those who need short term help to afford to pay for basic household essentials.

As well as practical support, they can also help you access information and advice on a range of things like ordering and paying for food online or over the phone, getting vouchers or e-payment cards for volunteers to use, increasing your financial independence and maintaining your general health and wellbeing.

You can also call them to raise concerns about someone in your community who you think needs help.

South Hams District Council Community Helpline – 01803 861297

Exeter City Council Community Wellbeing – 01392 265000

Mid Devon District Council Community Support Hotline – 01884 234387

North Devon Council Coronavirus Community Support Service – 01271 388280

Torridge District Council COVID Information Line – 01237 428888

West Devon Borough Council Community Helpline – 01822 813683

Teignbridge District Council Coronavirus Hotline – 01626 215512

East Devon District Council Coronavirus Community Support Hub Hotline – 01395 571500

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The Silver Line

The Silver Line is the only 24 hour, free and confidential and helpline for older people open every day and night of the year.

Contact them at 0800 4 70 80 90

Their specially trained helpline staff:

  • Offer information, friendship and advice
  • Link callers to local groups and services
  • Offer regular befriending calls
  • Match callers with their volunteers for telephone or letter friendship
  • Protect and support those who are suffering abuse and neglect  

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If you cannot get the help you need, the government can deliver essential groceries and support. Please register on the government website or call 0800 0288327. It may take time for support offered through this service to arrive, so if you need urgent food or care please try the local service numbers found above.

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Coronavirus testing contact centre

If you have questions about a test you’ve booked or are having trouble booking a test, you can call the customer contact centre from 7am to 11pm 7 days a week. A test can be booked via this number if you do not have access to the internet but are able to provide a phone number.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland: call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines)

Question: I want to know more about access to mental health services amid COVID-19

Most face to face services have been put on hold during the pandemic, and you want to know what support is out there for you. It is a difficult time for so many people, but living with a new or existing mental health condition could make the pandemic very difficult. But there is help out there.

Click here to find mental health support on offer.

If you have a young person aged 11-19 years old in your household, please let them know they can speak to a Devon school nurse in confidence about relationships, how they are feeling, bullying, self-harm, smoking or any other concerns by texting 07520631722 from Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. This service can offer support on a wide range of concerns. Find out more.

Space are also encouraging young people over the age of 13 to get in touch if they have any concerns, feeling isolated and the need to feel connected. Find out more.

Need urgent help? You can contact:

Samaritans

Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Visit their website

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Shout

Text Shout to 85258

Shout is a 24/7 UK crisis text service available for times when people feel they need immediate support.

Visit their website

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NHS 111

NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. You can call 111, or visit NHS 111 online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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CALL 999 IF:

  • someone’s life is at risk – for example, they have seriously injured themselves or taken an overdose
  • you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe

A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical one. You will not be wasting anyone’s time.

Is there anything we’ve missed?

Get in touch and we could help you find the right service for and your loved ones during this difficult time:

Call 0800 520 0640, Monday-Friday 10am-4pm

Email info@healthwatchdevon.co.uk

Or contact us via our website