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COVID-19 updates

The NHS hit a milestone of over 15 million vaccinations and the top four priority groups have now been offered their vaccinations – this includes Armed Forces healthcare workers and serving personnel and families registered with DMS who have been deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable. The rollout is now being expanded to the over 65s.

People aged 70 and over who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, and want to be, can now contact the NHS to get a vaccine. The NHS want to ensure absolutely everyone is offered the vaccine.

People in this group should book their vaccination through the National Booking Service which allows patients to choose a time slot and location that suits them. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination by clicking here!

NHS England and NHS Improvement has produced videos of clinicians recording messages in some of the most commonly spoken languages to help ensure information about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine is clear for all, with a particular focus on tackling the concerns of groups who may be less likely to want the vaccine.

Public Health England has also shared printable leaflets on COVID-19 vaccine information in various community languages. Download from the Campaign Resource Centre here and share through your channels.

To stay up to date with the latest news and information on the vaccine, please visit the NHS website. Please see here for documents relating to the vaccination programme, as well as Public Health England COVID-19 vaccine campaign resources. 

Armed Forces community information

The Ministry of Defence has this week issued a statement about the reinstatement of medals to those who were discharged on the basis of sexuality and guidance on the restoration of Military Medals.

We welcome the medal reinstatement and the work to right this historic wrong, we continue to work closely with the charity Fighting with Pride to support LGBT+ Serving, Veterans and their families.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues raised in the statement released this week by the MOD, the NHS offers care and support to Veterans, as part of our wider community, including dedicated services for mental and physical health conditions. Individuals requiring care and support are encouraged to seek help and can find out more on the NHS website.

To support access to the right care and support, it's important for veterans to register with an NHS GP and tell them that they have served in the Armed Forces. For information on how to do this, watch this short video, read this leaflet or visit the NHS website.

Last week, we launched a partnership with the Invictus Games Foundation to share lessons learnt in overcoming adversity as we continue to support our people with their physical health and wellbeing, thanks also go to Armed Force Patient and Public Voice member Glenn Haughton who has been supporting this work.

Our collaboration will start with a series of themed podcasts featuring members of the Invictus community, with more support to follow. Listen to the first podcast and see what NHS Chief People Officer Prerana Issar had to say about our new partnership.

This week JJ Chalmers ex-Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist featured in ‘Road to Recovery’ on the BBCs The One Show, telling the story of how he lives in pain every day, ever since he was injured in Afghanistan in 2011. In the feature, JJ attends Salisbury District Hospital for surgery, an accredited Veteran aware trust and part of the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA). The hospital is also a member of the Veterans Trauma Network.

The new Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service, continues to mobilise across England with services in the London, Midlands, the North and the South East now live.

  • In the South West the service mobilised in early December 2020 with plans to go live by April 2021.
  • In the East of England negotiations are underway in the locality and will result in national coverage of the HIS.

The HIS is for veterans who are struggling with their mental health, are in a mental health crisis and / or need urgent and emergency care and treatment. Together with the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS), the HIS now offers a complete range of specialist mental health care for serving personnel leaving the armed forces and veterans.

More details of the TILS, CTS and HIS, including how to contact the services, are available on the NHS website.

Despite national COVID-19 restrictions, it is still important to encourage people to register with a GP, to ensure that they are prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine. Everyone in England is entitled to register with a GP. Many people who experience health inequalities can face barriers when trying to register. Practices should not turn people away because they do not have proof of ID, address or immigration status. People can also register if they do not know or do not have an NHS number.

Within the next few weeks, GP access cards will be distributed by local Healthwatch and voluntary organisations to vulnerable communities who are less likely to be registered. The card, which is similar in look to a credit card, will be accompanied by a welcome to GP letter from Dr Raj Patel, Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care and will provide details of how to register. The voluntary sector and GP staff are receiving training on the registration process so they can support people with their registration.

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