May 22nd 2020

COVID-19: Cheshire health and care update



Welcome to the latest edition of our series of bulletins designed to keep you up-to-date about Cheshire's response to Coronavirus (Covid-19). Developed by NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group in partnership with NHS partners, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cheshire East Council and Healthwatch Cheshire we aim for this to be a one-stop-shop for key updates.

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COVID-19 testing update

Who can get tested?

Everyone showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms is now eligible to book a swab test to find out if they have the virus.

People can register for a test at, after checking their symptoms. Those in England and Wales who do not have any access to the internet, or who have difficulty with the digital portals, are able to ring a new 119 service to book their test.

As per the above graphic, the four UK Chief Medical Officers also announced on May 18th 2020 that anosmia – the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell or taste – has been added as a symptom of COVID-19.

This means that individuals need to self-isolate immediately – and will be eligible for a test – if they have a new continuous cough, or a high temperature, or feel a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste.

All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.

Testing for essential workers

Essential Workers and members of their household who have symptoms should continue to register for a test through the Self-Referral and Employer Portals on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland retain separate eligibility definitions for essential workers.

Care Homes in England can continue to register for delivery of tests for all their staff and residents, whether or not they have symptoms:

How to get tested in Cheshire

Testing is currently by appointment only and the correct booking procedures must be followed in order to avoid being turned away.

Satellite testing centres

There are currently two satellite testing centres in Cheshire at the Countess of Chester Hospital and Leighton Hospital in Crewe.

Initially, priority testing was for people with symptoms to see if they have the virus, both to inform clinical diagnosis and help people get back to work.

Most recently, however, in England the Government has expanded testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19) to include:

  • Hospital patients suspected of having Covid-19
  • All those working on the frontline in health and social care (with or without symptoms)
  • Patients in the NHS and residents in Care Homes (with or without symptoms)
  • All other essential workers with symptoms
  • Anyone over 65 with symptoms
  • Anyone who goes into work because they cannot work from home (for example, construction workers) and has symptoms
  • All teachers providing face-to-face services to Children (with or without symptoms)
  • Anyone who has symptoms and lives with someone who meets any of the above criteria

Cheshire's satellite testing centres will now test all these staff groups where the individual/s can travel to the centres. They will also test symptomatic and asymptomatic adults and children (above the age of 5, accompanied by an adult) when moving between local care facilities.

The teams can also support outreach swabbing on a case-by-case review. Please note: in this scenario you may need to arrange a clinician or social care worker to take the swab from your patient/client.

To arrange a test at one of Cheshire's satellite testing centre, please email:

Regional testing centres and home testing

In the North West there are regional testing centres at Manchester Airport, Haydock Racecourse and Preston College.

You can apply for a test directly at one of these sites if you are in one of the groups above. You can select a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit. These testing options are available to over 18s only. Click here to apply for a test.

Mobile Testing Units

In addition to the local and regional testing options outlined above, mobile testing units, operated by the Armed Forces, are currently travelling to sites around the UK to increase access to coronavirus testing.

These mobile testing units are temporary and travel to test essential workers as well as other eligible groups and members of their households.

More information about mobile testing units can be found here.

To book a test at the mobile testing unit, essential workers and other eligible groups can access the government self-referral portal to register and book on behalf of themselves or a member of their household.

Kindness and compassion key to people's mental health

A mental health champion has urged the people of Cheshire to look out for each other and seek help if they need it amid the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week (May 18th-24th) Chris Lynch, a Governing Body Lay Member for NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), emphasised the ongoing importance of kindness and compassion.

Chris, a passionate advocate for services which are co-designed and co-produced by those that access them, also pointed to a number of services that are already in place locally to support people.

“It is really positive that a 24/7 mental health crisis line was fast-tracked to support people amid the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

“Staying at home and practicing social distancing has been difficult for many of us, but it is vital that people continue to access the care and support they need, when they need it. It is also heartening to see the many acts of compassion and kindness which are helping people throughout the COVID-19 response.”

Earlier this year, a mental health crisis café – Number 71 – was launched in Chester to enable more people to access the care and support they need, including peer support, in a warm, welcoming environment.

You'd seek help if you broke your leg, and it shouldn't be any different with mental health. That's the message from mental health champion Chris Lynch.

Cheshire system update

Senior leaders across all Cheshire health and care partners regularly update on the latest position with the COVID-19 response. This enables issues to be flagged and system-wide solutions to be identified and agreed.

Key updates from this week include:

  • There are 2,167 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Cheshire. Very sadly, 433 COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded in Cheshire hospitals and 234 in care homes.
  • The number and percentage of care homes reporting a suspected or confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 to Public Health England by local authorities is available online here.

Help Us Help You get the treatment you need

The NHS in Cheshire is urging people not to ignore changes in their body which need to be checked out - despite the ongoing response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

People with possible signs or symptoms of cancer are among those who should get in touch with their doctor if they notice any unusual changes to their body. These changes could include lumps or blood in their spit, wee or poo.

GP practices across Cheshire remain open, and the first step to take is to give your practice a call. You may not be able to visit your GP - in the first instance - but you will be able to arrange a time for conversation by phone or, in some cases, a video or online consultation.
If you do need to see your doctor for a face-to-face appointment, GP practices have arrangements in place to ensure this is done safely.

Keeping in touch

Despite the current restrictions and social distancing requirements, health and care partners across Cheshire are working to ensure that engagement with key stakeholders, including members of the public, continues via virtual means.

A recording of this week's Cheshire West Health and Wellbeing Board -  held on May 20th - is available here: Cheshire West Health and Wellbeing Board

Recordings of the NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body and Cheshire Chat engagement sessions (both held on May 21st) will be available on the NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group website in the coming days.

Healthwatch Cheshire survey

Healthwatch Cheshire are conducting a survey about health and wellbeing during Coronavirus. The survey asks how you have found accessing advice and support, how you have been affected by changes to health and care services and about your mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak.

This is designed to find out what has been good, what lessons could be learned and what other support you may need during this time. The survey will be ongoing and people are encouraged to complete it more than once as the situation develops.

Click here to complete the survey

Partner updates

Healthwatch Cheshire is supporting the Cheshire health and care system by leading on the collation of public updates from all partners.

Find out more on the following two Healthwatch webpages:
Both local authorities have also developed Covid-19 specific webpages to outline the advice and support available to residents. Included this week are updates around plans for the safe reopening of local schools:

Media coverage

NHS seeking patients with COVID-19 for drugs trial

Leighton Hospital A&E attendances fall due to COVID-19

Mental health champion urges people to be kind

Shining a light for Cheshire's nurses during COVID-19

Prospect of second COVID spike monitored very closely

Copyright © 2020 NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, All rights reserved.

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