One of Blackpool Teaching Hospital’s leading respiratory consultants, Dr Tarek Saba, has warned of a difficult winter ahead, but offered hope that the communities and healthcare system can work together to keep everyone safe under increasing pressure.
Dr Saba has been at the frontline of Covid and other respiratory-related illnesses over the last 18 months and is not expecting things to get any easier for his team anytime soon.
“It is going to be a bad winter for our respiratory patients,” Dr Saba said. “A combination of flu and Covid and the NHS being under pressure, and the backlog of work, it is doing to make things difficult.
“Like most, we are well aware, and very frustrated on the backlog that we are trying to catch up on, but it is a matter of working through that in partnership with patients and healthcare providers.
“It will be a difficult winter, but we all need to work together to try and get through it.”
While Dr Saba expects to see his team with a growing number of patients through the coming months, he has one simple message for everyone to help themselves stay safe.
“The most important and obvious thing is to have your Covid jabs, have your booster jabs, have your flu jab.
“It all about prevention. If we stay on top of our vaccines, keep up with prescriptions, take our medications, use our inhalers; we know they work and they can keep you out of hospital and keep you away from your doctor.
“Remember that most coughs and colds don’t need a GP, most coughs and colds settle by themselves. I think our GPs are going to have a real tough time this winter, in all sorts of ways.
One way of relieving the pressure on the NHS would be for fewer patients to attend hospital, but Dr Saba is also keen to stress that services are available for anyone who might have a concern and that they should never put off seeking help for a health issue.
He said: “The Covid pandemic has meant that a lot of people have left it later to see their doctors or to access medical advice. So if you have a symptom that you are worried about, that has dragged on too long, your doctor is there, your nurse is there, people are there to help you with it.
“I wouldn’t hold back from getting advice for something that is persistent and dragging on, because that is what we are here for.”