HEALTH leaders today (Wednesday) have issued an "urgent plea" to the public amid a "perfect storm" of NHS pressures and rocketing rates of Covid-19 on the Isle of Wight.

It comes as the demand on services and the volume of 999 calls continue to soar. 

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust says almost every hospital bed is full.

More than 650 people with Covid are being cared for in hospitals across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight — more than 2.5 times higher than in early January, during the peak of winter.

Meanwhile, more than 2,800 staff working for local NHS organisations are off sick, with almost half of the absences due to Covid-19.

Due to significant and sustained pressures, health leaders are having to make some very difficult decisions — to prioritise patients who are most in need of emergency care.

This means: 

•    People arriving at the Emergency Department who don’t need emergency care will be redirected to other, more appropriate services.
•    Patients will be discharged from hospital when they have received all of the acute care they need, even if they continue to test positive for Covid.
•    Relatives and carers are asked to ensure their loved one can be discharged quickly to help free up beds for those who need them.
•    They are also asked to support loved ones with their ongoing care needs in the short term, once they have been discharged from hospital.

Other asks include:

•    Staying in contact with the ward they are on. so everyone is clear about and prepared for the expected date of discharge.
•    Supporting arrangements to provide suitable clothing and shoes for the person being discharged.
•    Helping with transporting patients home. If you can help take a relative, friend or neighbour home when they are ready to leave hospital, it helps them get home more quickly.

Steve Parker, Isle of Wight NHS Trust medical director, said: “Our emergency department is very busy and hospital staff are working hard to care for high numbers of people needing urgent care.

“Our plea to the community is, if you think you need A&E, please call NHS 111 first.

"The NHS 111 team, who are also based here on the Island, can provide support straight away and ensure you get the right treatment quickly.

“Should you need to come to hospital, they can arrange a time for you to arrive. 

"If you are unsure, or need medical advice, you can also use NHS 111 online. Please help us to help you.”

More information on which service to use and when is available here.