As the pressure of COVID-19 reduces and planned operations and appointments start to return, a health trust is acting to reassure patients.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is sending a message to patients who have been invited to come in to hospital that they are safe to do so.
Deputy medical director Chris Tulloch is leading calls, in a bid to ease concerns of patients who are due to have surgery or visit for treatment.
Mr Tulloch said: “As we reintroduce our elective programme which was put on hold as a result of the pandemic, we are reassuring patients that it is safe to come in.
“There are two groups of patient who we have – those with cancer who we have been treating throughout the period, while we also have ones due to have elective surgery who have been waiting for a date.
“For anyone coming in for surgery there are a number of measures in place.
“Patients due for surgery are asked to self-isolate for two weeks before their operation.
“The normal practice is we ring the patients beforehand – I’ve had one patient who was very concerned, we have put his date back for three months and hopefully he’ll fell happier then.
“Because we have been operating on cancer patients throughout this period, we know that the risk is extremely small. Over 1,000 operations have been carried across the Tees Valley, with only a couple of these developing into cases.
“We also divide operations into ‘clean areas’.
“I am very confident it is safe to come in. I have been going in throughout this period and I would be classed as an at risk person myself – I am not frightened.
“For any patients with appointments, we want to assure people that we space these appointments out so patients don’t meet. We have created an entirely clean pathway.
“We will be detecting more cancers and more issues – this is the right thing to do and I am delighted these appointments are returning.”