Over recent weeks, restrictions have been easing and we have been able to enjoy some of the things that we’ve previously put ‘on hold’, such as meeting up with friends and family, going to a pub or perhaps enjoying a meal out. With appropriate safety measures in place such as social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing face masks, our lives are slowly changing towards a new kind of normal. It’s been a tough few months and being able to do “normal” things is welcomed.
We do have to remember though that the coronavirus is still around. We now have to learn to ‘live with it’ and make sure that we continue to take appropriate measures to keep ourselves, our families and our friends as safe as possible. Doncaster has worked incredibly hard to help minimise the spread of COVID-19; we’ve listened to and followed the guidance and people have supported each other. As a local Doctor and Clinical Chair of NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, I am proud to serve this community.
But, now is not the time to become complacent and allow cases of the virus to start increasing again. Let’s remain vigilant and continue to keep Doncaster safe by following the guidance and keeping up all the good work.
As the bank holiday approaches, I’m sure many of you will be taking the opportunity to meet up with friends and family, perhaps in a public place. People will want to enjoy themselves while keeping safe; a combination of social distancing, transport limitations and relaxed licensing rules means that meeting in the pub is going to be a different experience to the one we’re used to in the past. Sometimes when alcohol is added to the equation, our adherence to the guidance, particularly around social distancing, can be forgotten.
Here are five top tips to keep yourself and your friends/family safe if you’re going out for a drink:
- Keep a close eye on your social bubble – stay together and watch out for each other.
- Discuss and organise your travel arrangements before you go out. Remember public transport and taxis may be limited so plan ahead.
- Social distancing is even more important, after a few drinks – alcohol can affect our inhibitions and may change our behaviour so it’s good to stay in some control and keep your drinking within the low risk drinking guidelines.
- Keep hydrated – alcohol dehydrates you and can therefore affect how you feel and behave. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones such as water.
- Remember the reason you are out – to see friends and family and to reconnect after the months of lockdown! Alcohol is not compulsory and there are many other refreshing drinks available.
Drinking too much can not only have a negative impact on your health but also puts a huge burden on the NHS. Quite a few A&E attendances are linked to alcohol. In Doncaster, in the 12 months to the end of March 2020, there were 1,817 emergency admissions to Doncaster Royal Infirmary for people with an alcohol-related diagnosis.
The staff at DRI are working incredibly hard to provide those needed services and also catch-up on appointments postponed due to the coronavirus. Alongside this, however, they are seeing a steady increase in the number of people attending A&E. In fact, they are now seeing the same pre-coronavirus levels of attendance.
So as the bank holiday weekend approaches, I’d like to ask you all to take care, look out for each other and please use our local health services responsibly. Please help us to support our emergency department for those that really need it most. We have many different services available to provide treatment and advice 24hours a day, including the Same Day Health Centre, NHS 111, your local pharmacy or your local GP. You can look on Doncaster CCG’s website or Facebook page for help in Choosing the right service.
As a local GP and on behalf of other health and care colleagues, we’re relying on you – let’s do it for Doncaster!
Alcohol support available: