Health and care leaders in Gloucestershire are today urging people to follow the new restrictions to the letter to save lives and protect the NHS.

They have warned of rising hospital admissions and a potential surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.

The last few weeks have seen a rapid rise in the number of COVID-19 positive patients being admitted to hospitals around the county, with numbers 60% higher than at the peak of the first wave. This puts enormous pressure on local hospitals and other local health and care services.

Accountable Officer at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System (ICS) lead, Mary Hutton said: “We are urging people to take every possible precaution to help reduce transmission.

There are potentially very serious implications for the NHS if we do not rapidly get this virus under control. The lockdown is needed to protect local people and local health services.”

Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Deborah Lee said: “NHS and care staff across Gloucestershire are doing an incredible job in the face of ever growing pressures and the efforts being made to keep essential services functioning are outstanding.

We are asking people to act with renewed vigour, think of their families and communities and do everything in their power to save lives and protect the NHS.”

Medical Director at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Amjad Uppal said: “This isn’t about scaring people, but it is our responsibility to spell out the implications of not adhering to the lockdown rules.

It’s about taking personal responsibility – staying at home wherever possible, exercising social distancing and wearing a face covering when going out for essential reasons and considering the impact of our actions on vulnerable people like older relatives.”

Sarah Scott, Gloucestershire’s Director of Public Health said: “We have all made tremendous sacrifices over the past year, but the very real risks to health, life and health and social care services have not gone away.

The COVID-19 vaccination programme is a great step forward and it is fantastic to see it being rolled out so quickly across the county, but it does not mean we can let our guards down.

National restrictions are in place because of the very serious threat from COVID-19 and we must do everything we can to prevent case numbers from climbing and protecting those who are most at risk from the virus.”

The NHS in Gloucestershire has been able to report some good news as monumental efforts have been made by NHS staff, groups of GP Practices and volunteers in the county to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme with tens of thousands already vaccinated.

Professor Steve Hams, Chief Nurse and Lead for the County’s Vaccination Programme added: “We are extremely proud of everyone involved in getting the COVID-19 community vaccination programme off the ground and as a result the county has been at the vanguard of the vaccination effort.”

Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Andy Seymour said: “Those involved have truly pulled out all the stops in the face of very challenging timescales. We now have the Edward Jenner Vaccination Hub and a network of 10 community vaccination centres in place in the county and great work is being done.

Gloucestershire is at the forefront of the COVID-19 community vaccination response and well placed to benefit from the imminent increase in vaccine supplies.

Enormous progress has been made with vaccinating frontline staff, over 80s and care home residents and there is a real focus on vaccinating the top priority groups over the coming weeks.

We know that people are thinking of family members and many people in the priority groups are keen to receive their first doses of the vaccine as soon as possible. Our message is; please wait for your GP surgery to contact you – we will get to you and tremendous strides are being made.”