NHS organisations across the county are sharing their resources to manage the impact of coronavirus heading in order to keep essential services running through the winter.

Health and social care settings are preparing for an increase in patients with the virus in hospitals in the coming months.

North Devon District Hospital is set to work closely with Royal Devon and Exeter, Derriford and Torbay hospitals to manage resources in the most effective way.

While all four hospitals will continue to see and treat patients with Covid-19 who present in emergency departments, the sharing of resources means some patients may be cared for or transferred to a different hospital.

The NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter is also on standby ready to receive coronavirus patients.

In the seven days prior to Friday, October 23, there have been 320 confirmed cases of the virus in the Devon County Council area.

North Devon and Torridge have seen 29 cases in that time, with 19 in North Devon and 10 in Torridge.

Rob Dyer, lead medical director for Devon, said: “We will continue to provide as much as we can as locally as possible, but by being flexible we have a chance of balancing keeping essential services running – such as community services, important diagnostics and routine surgery – whilst also treating patients with Covid-19.

“Our simple advice to the public is to attend all NHS appointments you are invited to.

“Although we are seeing increase numbers of cases of Covid-19, the NHS is still open and safe and people that need care should continue to attend.

“We also need people to choose the right service for their needs. People should continue to call 999 and attend the A&E departments if they believe they have a serious illness, for example if they or a loved one see the signs of stroke, severe chest pain or worsening asthma.

“However, we are seeing waiting times increase at A&E departments and many people who are attending could get the help they need from other local services, such as 111 or their local GP.”

The NHS is reminding local people that they need to play their part by continuing to follow Government’s ‘hands, face, space’ guidance on good hygiene, wearing a mask where needed, social distancing and limiting the number of people they meet with.