NHS BOSSES in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin are taking further steps to reassure people waiting for tests or treatment in local hospitals or in the community during this current wave of the pandemic.

Because of the continued pressure on the NHS across the country as a result of the pandemic, some non-urgent services have been temporarily reduced or stood down.

This has allowed hospitals and community services to redeploy staff to meet the most pressing need, create space to protect people through social distancing, and care for Covid and non-Covid patients separately.

Dave Evans, joint accountable officer for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), said he appreciated patient's frustrations but said difficult decisions needed to be made.

“Essential procedures are continuing, but some services, where there is no immediate harm to patients, have been temporarily reduced or stood down," he said.

“We know that this is not what people want to hear and that it is really frustrating but we have had to make difficult decisions and move some clinical and non-clinical staff to help in our response to the pandemic.

"This has helped us meet the challenges and boost our vaccine programme to ensure that everyone can benefit from receiving a vaccine as soon as possible.

“We’d like to remind people that if they are on a waiting list and their condition has deteriorated, they should contact the service they have been referred to directly if they have had an initial appointment.

"If they haven’t yet had an appointment they should contact their GP practice. In this way we will continue to prioritise patients at risk of harm.

“It is really important that people attend appointments they are given.

"We have robust infection prevention measures in our GP practices, hospitals and community settings, making them safe for both patients and staff.

“As our local vaccination programme has moved at pace, we are aiming to bring some of those services stood down or reduced back to either partial or full capacity earlier than we had hoped.

"We cannot give a blanket waiting time for appointments as all services differ.

“We would like to thank people for their understanding and reassure them that these changes are temporary.

"They are being done in a planned way with the best interests of local people and our staff in mind.”

The local NHS is continuing to see those patients who need to be seen urgently or as an emergency.

If people need medical help they should contact NHS 111 first for advice and to make sure they access the most appropriate service for their health concern.

If they have a serious or life-threatening illness or injury, they must continue to contact 999.