Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): health and wellbeing support services

Information about health and wellbeing support services available during the coronavirus pandemic.

6 Nov 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): health and wellbeing support services

Health and wellbeing support services

COVID protection levels: a system of local protection levels was introduced on 2 November. Check the protection level for your area and find out what you can and cannot do under each level.

Medical emergency and when to go to a GP

The NHS remains open for everyone, and you should not delay accessing any help you need during the pandemic.

Your GP and community pharmacy is open, with many GP surgeries offering phone or video consultations to find out what additional help you might need. Contact them first. You can continue to access Primary Care Out of Hours Services by contacting NHS 24 or 111.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please call 111 and in any medical or health emergency always call 999.

Local hospital restart of usual NHS services

Health boards are restarting some NHS services that were paused because of COVID-19, including primary and community services, and mental health.

We have published a framework which will allow health boards to prioritise cancer surgery for those most in need of cancer treatment. We plan to restart, where possible, urgent elective surgery previously paused, as well as IVF treatment following the approval of Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

We are also planning to retain COVID-free GP services, including scaling up digital consultations.

Phase 3 will see an expansion of screening services and adult flu vaccinations.

By Phase 4, the full range of health and social care services will be provided with greater use of technology to provide improved services to citizens.

Urgent elective surgery

We are considering how we can begin to safely restart NHS services and restart, where possible, urgent electives previously paused. In doing, so we need to achieve a careful balance in managing our healthcare capacity.

Dentist or optician appointments

From 13 July community optometry practices started to further increase their services – especially for emergency and essential eye care. From 13 July dental practices also started to see registered patients for 'non-aerosol' procedures such as a simple check-up, dentures and dental braces, and from 17 August urgent dental care involving aerosols can begin in practices for NHS patients.

Support groups

Mental health is a top priority and we are making sure that everyone who needs support can get access to appropriate services.

At a glance

  • one to one support and support groups are important and should continue to run, where possible
  • they should be run online if possible
  • if that is not possible, check your COVID protection level to see if your group can meet face to face
  • if you do meet face to face, you should follow the guidance below

Face-to-face meetings

Mental health and wellbeing support should be delivered remotely, where possible, in line with the guidance that remote working should remain the default position for those who can. Where this is not possible - for example, where remote delivery significantly diminishes benefits compared to face to face meetings - support can be delivered in person.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Strategic Framework sets out that support services can operate at Levels 0-3.

Under COVID Protection Level 4, only essential support groups can meet in person if online meeting is not possible.

An essential support group is one where participant’s health (including their mental health) and wellbeing would be significantly impacted by non-attendance.

Where groups are taking place in person, the below guidance must be followed.

Other rules continue to apply on preparation and hygiene procedures to ensure infection prevention and control. Guidance on safer workplaces should be followed, such as changing the layout of a room to ensure physical distancing. In indoor places and where physical distancing is difficult and where there is a risk of contact within 2 metres with people who are not members of your household, a face covering should be worn. Some people may be exempt from wearing a face covering. See: current guidance on how and when to wear face coverings.

Consideration should be given to receptions and waiting areas especially those of multi-use buildings. Where support groups are held within healthcare or hospitality premises, specific guidance for those premises will apply.

Those coming together for mental health and wellbeing support (including, but not limited to, carer support, group therapy or any other support for mental illness, weight loss support, addiction support, victim support and bereavement support) are not restricted by the household regulations. This is the case whether support is professional led or peer support. In relation to child contact centres services please see the sector specific guidance.

When meeting, the guidance from Health Protection Scotland continues to apply. Face coverings do not need to be worn during support group sessions, where 2 meters distance is maintained between attendees, however, all participants must:

  • wear a face covering (unless exempt) when entering and moving around indoor venues for support groups and at all times while in the venue, where 2 meters distance cannot be maintained
  • stay at least 2 metres away from anyone who is not part of your household or wear a face covering (unless exempt)
  • maintain hand and cough hygiene
  • avoid touching hard surfaces with your hands
  • follow FACTS and advice on the NHS Inform website about physical distancing and hygiene
  • wash your hands when you arrive, when you leave, when you get home and especially before eating or after touching surfaces
  • keep rooms well ventilated – consider opening windows or a door

If you have any questions, contact: