HEALTH providers have been granted almost £2million extra funding to help them get through winter pressures.
The region has been awarded the cash from a £700m national pot by the Government to help the NHS be better prepared to cope with the expected increase in demand.
Shaun Jones, of NHS England’s Durham, Darlington and Tees area team, updated councillors on the measures in place to be ready for the coming months.
Mr Jones said that unlike previous years when the funding went mainly to relieve pressure on A&E, this year it will help to provide more primary care services.
It will help to pay for things such as extra GP surgeries to try to prevent people ending up in hospital in the first place.
NHS England is running a campaign this year encouraging people to use community facilities where they can instead of visiting accident and emergency departments.
Mr Jones told the Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Committee: “A lot of effort has gone into preparing for this winter.
“Extensive planning takes place after each winter to go into planning for subsequent ones.”
Dr Boleslaw Posmyk, of the Stockton and Hartlepool Clinical Commissioning Group urged people to take advantage of the extra GP services.
He said: “I would recommend people take note of the ‘keep calm’ message and see a GP when they start to get ill and not hang on until the last minute and ring 999.”
Mr Jones said the major challenges faced by the NHS over winter include delays in ambulance hand overs and discharges from hospitals and higher than usual admissions due to outbreaks of the norovirus sickness bug and an ageing population.
Between early November and the end of March, hospitals report how well they are coping to NHS leaders on a daily basis.
NHS England’s annual flu ab campaign is also underway. Among the key people they are trying to reach this year are pregnant women.
Sandra Ansah, of the Durham, Darlington and Tees area team, said: “The flue vaccination is one of most effective interventions to reduce harm and pressures on the health and care service during winter.
To increase uptake, more pharmacies are offering the jabs including 10, or 53 per cent, of those in Hartlepool.