The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many people are waiting longer than usual for their operations or other procedures.
NHS Norfolk and Waveney (the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System, or ICS) is determined to help people receive their treatments as quickly as possible whichever hospital they are under.
However, sometimes by the time a person is called for their procedure it cannot go ahead because their medical fitness has got worse, or if a long-term condition has not been under control in the months before the procedure. This can be devastating for the person concerned.
To help support people waiting for a hospital appointment, operation or treatment, we have developed While You Wait portal on the Norfolk and Waveney ICS website. It gives people advice on what they can do to maintain or improve their physical and mental health while they wait, as well as support with how to get help if they are concerned. It includes tips and information on keeping healthy including a downloadable Exercise at Home guide, mental health resources, and links to local support services within Norfolk and Waveney as well as other trusted sources of information.
Local health leaders are urging anyone that is waiting to maintain their health to make sure that they are fit and ready for their procedure.
Dr Frankie Swords, Medical Director of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: “For anyone who is waiting longer than expected for their treatment or procedure, it’s important to use this time to get as healthy as you can. This is essential to make sure you’re fit and healthy enough to undertake your treatment, avoid complications, and prepare for a successful recovery. Generally, the fitter you are before an operation, the faster the recovery can be afterwards, so this is a great resource.
“There are several important ways you can maintain, and even improve, your health before treatment. Take simple steps to increase how much activity you do each day, which will help build up strength in your heart and lungs and also help you maintain a healthy weight. Stop or reduce how much you smoke, and drink alcohol within the recommended limits, or less. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking plenty of water – not sugary or fizzy drinks – are also important to help keep your immune system functioning at its best.
“The most important message is to make small, achievable changes to your diet and routine gradually, so you can stick with them and not give up. And above all else, it’s hugely important that you follow the instructions from your healthcare team, including taking all medications.”
Alongside tips and resources to support people to improve their health while they wait, the While You Wait portal also includes information on waiting times, with links to the NHS’s recently launched My Planned Care website which provides access to average waiting times at hospitals across the country. Each hospital trust has a unique page on this site, which patients can access directly without having to contact their hospital or GP practice. It also includes information to help people manage certain specific conditions before their surgery.
Carers, friends, and relatives can also see the information on both portals and health leaders are encouraging them to help guide their loved ones through the detail and support them to make the lifestyle changes that will help them to be best prepared for their treatment.
If you know someone who would benefit from these resources but isn’t online, please support them to use these resources, or encourage them to visit their local library or contact the Norfolk Libraries digital health hub for support in accessing health advice online. For more information and advice and to book a place at the digital health hub, call 01603 774777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.