As we re-enter lockdown measures to bring the spread of coronavirus under control, I know many of us are feeling overwhelmed and anxious at the prospect of limited social interaction through the remaining dark winter months.
There is no doubt these restrictions are tough – but they are now vital. We must all do our part by sticking by the rules. We are in a critical fight against the virus and after dither and delay the Prime Minister has finally made the right call. Tighter restrictions are necessary for us to get a grip of the virus, protect our NHS and save lives.
The major difference is ongoing vaccine rollout, which these restrictions give us the opportunity to significantly step-up. This must not be allowed to fail, and we need to do all we can to support the NHS in this momentous task. There is now hope for the future.
As a nation, we need to recapture the spirit of the national lockdown in March and the Government needs to renew its contract with the British people. We were the first in the world to get the vaccine, we should now aim to be the first in the world to get vaccinated. Vaccinating Britain has got to be our national mission as it is the only way to get out of this crisis and to reopen our economy.
Please make sure you are following the latest advice from the NHS and the government which you can access here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus
I pay tribute to all our NHS staff and volunteers working incredibly hard now and over the coming weeks and months to administer the vaccine, and to our medical scientists, clinical researchers, regulators and trial participants who have been instrumental in securing a vaccine. They do so much to make our health and research sectors ones to be proud of and they deserve our respect, admiration and support.
Vaccinations are being carried out right now, with over 80 year olds, frontline NHS and social care workers, care home residents and carers, in the first round. While this work is going on our GPs are still carrying out “business as usual” work. To ensure this all goes smoothly the Tees Valley CCG has issued a plea for people not to call their doctors asking for a vaccine appointment.
It is important to remember that everyone will be vaccinated but that it is being rolled out in stages. No one needs to call for an appointment. If you are in the priority group which is currently being vaccinated, pleased be assured that your GP will contact you
Vaccinations save lives and we must do everything possible to promote uptake, as it is our route out of this pandemic. The UK has the highest regulatory and medical safety standards in the world. You can find more information about vaccination is safe and important on the NHS website here.
Where you can find the information you need
As with the previous restrictions, our people and businesses need a proper package of support to get them through these tough times. Similarly our schools and children need resources and support as young people face an even longer time out of school. I’ll continue to work with my Tees Labour colleagues to demand this.
Information about what business support is available can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support
You can find local advice from Stockton Borough Council, including where to get a test, here: https://www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus
You can access the latest advice from Public Health England and the NHS here: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
For Stockton Borough Council, all helplines and emails are listed here: https://www.stockton.gov.uk/our-council/customer-services/contact-customer-services/
For housing advice call Shelter on 0808 800 4444
To contact the police in non-emergency situations call 101
Many of us are feeling worried about people we know being isolated through the new lockdown. If you or anyone you know is struggling and need help, please remember you are not alone.
Samaritans 116 123
Mind 0300 123 3393
Calm 0800 58 58 58
Women’s Aid 0808 2000 247
Age UK 0800 678 1602
Childline 0800 1111
YoungMinds 0800 018 2138
It didn’t have to be like this – had Boris Johnson taken the decisions he should have way back in March and again in September, we would be in a far better place and wouldn’t have one of the highest death rates from Covid 19 in the world.
It is extremely important that everyone keeps following the rules. This means staying at home if you can, only going out for specific reasons – and as little as possible, not mixing with anyone outside of your immediate household. Through everyone’s efforts we can beat this virus and return to a more normal way of life before too long.
As ever, please do not hesitate to contact my office if there is anything you believe I can provide assistance with. The situation is fast changing, and there are some delays in receiving responses from Government ministers, but please rest assured I will always do my best to help whenever I can.