"As a nurse, I have experienced many difficult shifts working in the NHS, however I really cannot imagine what it must be like for our colleagues on the front line at the moment. I would like to say a massive thank you to all NHS staff, carers and key workers who are making a real difference at this time.
"Despite the pandemic, cases of meningitis are still occurring and those whose lives have been impacted by meningitis continue to require our support. Many have been through the pain of losing a loved one from an infectious disease, others have been left with life-changing after-effects. It is understandable that during this pandemic, many will experience increased levels of anxiety and stress, perhaps bringing back vivid memories of their experience, or the fear of contracting another infectious disease. This is why we feel it is so important to ensure our nurse-led helpline remains available during this time.
Is there any difference to the helpline service during lockdown?
"No, our experienced nurses remain on hand to answer enquires and provide information. As we follow the #stayathome advice, it is possible that you may hear some extra background noise during a call; dogs barking, children playing or lawn mowers are all providing an extra challenge! However, rest assured we are all set up to ensure calls are confidential and that we can take the time to listen to your concerns and answer your questions.
What sort of enquires are we getting?
"As well as the more common enquiries about meningitis and its after-effects, we have seen an increase in questions about coronavirus and what it may mean to individual situations.
"We are also getting questions from parents who are worried about taking their children for routine vaccines. Ensuring vaccines are given on time is vital to ensure protection. This also helps to protect the NHS, after all the last thing we need at the moment is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease.
"Another concern is those who are worried that someone may have meningitis. Concerns include not wishing to bother the NHS unnecessarily or the fear of contracting COVID if there is a need to attend hospital or the GP surgery. However, meningitis is a life-threatening disease requiring urgent medical attention and the NHS remains open for anyone who needs it.
"Whatever the nature of your enquiry, whether you just need to talk to someone about your experience, or have questions to ask, we are here to listen, provide information and direct you to the appropriate service if required.
How can you contact our helpline?
"You can contact our helpline by calling 0808 80 10 388 (Freephone) between 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday. We can also answer your enquiries by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media.
"On behalf of our helpline nurses, we are here for you. Keep safe."
Claire Donovan, Helpline and Information Manager.