Care services in the community could be rationed amid the spread of Omicron, which is exploding staff absences in England’s public services.
Choices will have to be made about which services can and cannot be covered, according to Patricia Marquis, English director of the Royal College of Nursing.
“The services are already very busy and it won’t take a lot of time – either more staff absences or an increasing number of patients needing to be seen because the hospitals are full – to really push the services to the limit,” a- she declared.
Marquis predicts that as services begin to reopen after Christmas, it will become clearer just how much extra pressure they face.
Community nursing is of particular concern and these services could end up being rationed, Marquis said. “Everyone automatically thinks of hospitals, but staff shortages don’t just affect hospitals. Consideration may need to be given to limiting the number of community services available.
Stephen T Chandler, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, also warned that social care provided in people’s homes could be hit hard by the Omicron wave.
“In some places people have to wait longer to be discharged from the hospital or may wait longer for people to come out and assess them. In some cases this will lead to the unavailability of certain services in the short term and that is what we mean by rationing, ”he said.
An Oxfordshire daycare has already had to close temporarily due to understaffing, he said. Home care is at risk of being seriously affected as it is more difficult to redeploy staff.
“The best-case scenario would be if a stranger walks into your home who is unfamiliar with your care and the worst-case scenario is that the number of visits should be reduced,” he said.
Chandler said community care plays a crucial role in protecting the NHS as it can reduce the number of people going to hospital. “This is why it is so essential that nothing happens that would risk this,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the board of the British Medical Association, warned GPs were hit by staff shortages and said the government’s focus only on hospitalization data during of making decisions about new Covid restrictions was shortsighted.
Nagpaul said: “For me, the elephant in the room, these are the alarming levels of NHS staff shortages, and the hospital data does not include general practice, which is significantly affected.”
The BMA has been informed that a large number of appointments are being canceled as a result. “We are also seeing clinics for blood testing being canceled, for example when nurses are on sick leave. Front desk staff are also getting sick, which means phones go unanswered. “
When people can’t get GP appointments, A&E visits usually increase, which has a ripple effect on hospitals. “The government’s focus solely on hospital absences and Omicron’s hospitalization misses the larger picture of the impact on general practice, which is for patients this first point of view. contact.”
Public transport also continues to come under pressure due to staff shortages linked to Covid. The Rail Delivery Group, the The UK rail industry member body said 6.8% of trains had been canceled on Monday, compared to an average of 5.4% in seven days until Friday, December 24. The annual average of cancellations is 2.9%.
A spokesperson said: “Our staff work under difficult circumstances and, like everyone else, they are susceptible to the virus. “
Waste collection services also continue to be disrupted in parts of the country, with Borough Council of Basingstoke and Deane having to announce on Christmas Eve that some collections may not take place due to related staff issues. at Covid.
Garbage collections for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire between Christmas and New Years have also had to be revised, with some collection dates being delayed by five days.
Green bin collections in the region have been suspended from December 13 due to the number of absent drivers and loaders, including due to Covid-19 or self-isolation, said the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service , the tours should not return to normal before January 24th.