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Health chiefs plead: ‘Don’t get sick if you can avoid it’ as NHS faces ‘major crisis’

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Health chiefs plead: ‘Don’t get sick if you can avoid it’ as NHS faces ‘major crisis’
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Health chiefs pleaded with the public on Tuesday to “avoid unnecessary illness” as the NHS grapples with a crisis.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has recommended the use of face masks outdoors to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and influenza, as well as scarlet fever.

Viruses sweeping the country are putting extra strain on the NHS at a time when the service is already extremely overburdened.

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor, who represents organizations in the health service, said the situation facing hospitals is “very difficult”.

“There is no doubt that the situation is very difficult, which is why many trusts have declared critical incidents,” he told the BBC on Tuesday.

“We cannot provide the level of service that we want to provide.

“It’s important to say that the NHS is there for you if you need it, but it’s also important to be clear with the public about the situation we find ourselves in and the ways in which the public can help.

“I welcome this new advice about people wearing masks and not going out if they’re sick, keeping kids out of school, because we need to do everything we can to avoid unnecessary illness.

“The simple reality here is that the health service is caught between the fact that it has limited capacity, particularly when it comes to the workforce (130,000 vacancies) and a level of demand that is difficult to meet in normal times.

“When you add the flu and covid, which not only offers a course that affects patients, but also means that any member of staff is sick, that’s when you get to this very difficult situation that we find ourselves in.”

Taylor encouraged ministers to “consider ways to reopen negotiations with unions” as the NHS faces another wave of strikes this month.

Ambulance staff will walk out on January 11 and 23, while nursing staff will go on strike for two consecutive days on January 18 and 19. This follows the strike by ambulance staff on December 21 and by nurses on December 15 and 20.

The Transport Secretary has recommended that people get vaccinated to stem the impact of Covid, saying wearing a mask is “sensible” if they need to go out while sick.

Asked if he would wear a mask if he was sick, Mark Harper told LBC: “First of all, you should stay home if you think you have Covid or you have the flu – actually the most sensible thing to do is not to go.” get it out and spread it.

“If you go out, clearly wearing a mask is very sensible if you’re sick.

“But we manage these diseases now through vaccination.

“People should get the covid shot, they should also get the flu shot. We’ve seen very high levels of flu this winter.”

The latest data from England’s NHS shows there were 3,746 patients per day in hospital with flu in the week ending December 25, up from 520 the previous month.

Nearly 270 people in the country were in intensive care beds with the virus. At the same time, last year there were only 34 patients in the hospital with flu, two of whom were in intensive care.

A total of 310 flu patients were occupying hospital beds in London on Christmas Eve.

Hospitals are also dealing with increased wait times for A&E.

The latest figures show that more than one in seven patients arriving by ambulance at a London hospital (16.2%) waited more than 60 minutes to be handed over to staff in the week to December 18, an increase of more of 6%. in a month.

Richard Webber, a spokesman for the College of Paramedics, said hospitals were unable to discharge patients due to a shortage of care workers and places for retirees.

He told BBC Radio 4: “I spoke to colleagues who work in acute care hospitals and they are full of patients who should be elsewhere, should be released to nursing homes or need support in the community.

“There is a lack of staff working in social care and a lack of capacity in social care, many hospitals have 100 or 200 patients who should not be in the hospital.

“They should be elsewhere being cared for in social care, they can’t be discharged, which means patients in the emergency department can’t be admitted to the hospital.

“I find it completely bizarre that we have a patient who has been deemed medically fit by a consultant to go home or elsewhere to be cared for and put in a bed, [but] someone who is not in good medical condition sits outside in an ambulance for eight or 10 hours waiting to be admitted.

“The real problem is getting patients discharged from the hospital and making the system work, and that can only be done through more investment in social care.”

The pressures facing the NHS are “intolerable” and have become a “major crisis”, said former head of the Royal College of Nursing Dr Peter Carter.

“It is a terrible set of circumstances that we find ourselves in and we know that this is the result of years of underinvestment, particularly in social care,” he said.

“Now, because of the winter, because of the flu, because of covid and all kinds of other problems, now you have a major crisis.

“In August, an 87-year-old man in Cornwall spent 15 hours stranded in his garden and his family set up a makeshift shelter because they couldn’t get an ambulance.

“We have a crisis and there are no good people trying to dilute it.

“Right now, things are intolerable and I’m sorry for the patients, but I’m also sorry for the staff.”

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