Home Top Global NewsHealthcare NHS may cancel appointments and reduce visiting times over Covid and flu ‘twindemic’, leaders warn

NHS may cancel appointments and reduce visiting times over Covid and flu ‘twindemic’, leaders warn

by Ozva Admin

NHS Trusts may be forced to cancel appointments and limit visiting times in a “twin oedemia” of Covid and flu this winter, health leaders have warned.

Fears have been raised that viruses could reduce the workforce and further increase demand for services during an already busy period.

It comes amid rising Covid infections in the UK. Around 1.3 million tested positive at the end of September.according to the latest figures, that was a 25 percent increase from the previous week.

The UK is worried there too there could be a bad flu season this yearwith lower immunity in the population due to reduced exposure in the Covid pandemic.

NHS leaders have warned that this context could make winter even more difficult for the health service.

“I have no doubts about this: we know this is going to be a time of pressure for trusts for the next four months, if not longer,” said Saffron Cordery of NHS Providers, which represents trusts in England. the independent.

The interim chief executive added: “We’re worried about Covid and we’re worried about the flu.”

Ms Cordery said that these joint pressures, which could increase demand, reduce the workforce and introduce the need for increased infection control measures, could have a ripple effect on services.

“We need to anticipate that there may well be cancellations of outpatient appointments or routine procedures or operations, because there could be staffing shortages or increased demand on emergency care, which means those routine appointments can’t be done as quickly as we’d like. . ,” she said.

Winter pressures could also lead to longer waiting times in emergency rooms and ambulances, he said. “That is one of the enduring pressures that we have seen in recent months. And we know that’s not a good experience for patients or their families. In fact, it is very worrying and also very challenging for the staff.”

Ms Cordery added: “We may also once again face difficult situations where visiting hours will be restricted in some areas because the risk of transmitting Covid to vulnerable patients is too great. “

Universal use of masks could also once again protect vulnerable patients and staff. “That may well be the price we have to pay to continue services,” Ms. Cordery said.

A hospital ward in Hereford was reportedly closed due to a Covid outbreak on the same day a 25 per cent rise in cases was reported across the country.

Dr Layla McCay from the NHS Confederation, which represents the health system in England, said: “With huge staff vacancies and a backlog of elective care now numbering almost seven million patients, the NHS is facing its most challenging winter yet. of history

“Health leaders across the country are deeply concerned about rising rates of Covid and the flu, as well as the serious pressures that the cost-of-living crisis is putting on people’s physical and mental health.”

He added: “The government must now be honest with the public about the service they can expect in the coming months.”

The NHS has already pledged to create thousands more beds and recruit more emergency call operators to meet the expected demand for this winter.

But the charities said they were “really worried” about patients this year, especially as the cost-of-living crisis hits.

Ruthe Isden of the Richmond Group of Charities, which includes Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation, said demand for the NHS was increasing as people in general suffered from more health problems after the covid pandemic.

“We know that the NHS, such systems are already struggling to meet that need, particularly around GP services. And that position will not improve as we approach winter. We only see that these will grow, since the cost of living has an impact on people’s health.”

She said charities were already hearing from people who were skipping paid prescriptions and couldn’t afford to operate medical equipment or refrigerators to keep insulin at home.

“We are reaching the critical point, really, where we have a growing number of people who need help for all kinds of reasons, coming off the back of the pandemic, because of covid itself, because of the cost of living. And we have fewer people working in the health and social care systems that provide it.”

Official data estimates that there are 132,000 trust vacancies in England. Leaders have previously warned the cost-of-living crisis was also forcing healthcare workers to quit looking for better paying jobs.

Christina Pagel, a healthcare expert at Independent Sage, agrees: “The cost of living will incentivize more people to leave, particularly for low-income healthcare workers. And it’s not just the nurses as cleaners, it’s the doormen, those people who actually have a really crucial role.”

He added: “I think it’s going to be a terrible winter, I think there’s nothing to make you hopeful about this winter for the NHS. The NHS has effectively been in crisis mode for a year.”

NHS Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “The threat of a flu season and Covid-19 creating a ‘twin demic’ this winter is real, as levels of infections continue to rise and the number of people hospitalized with covid is rising by more than a third in just over a month across England.

He urged anyone eligible for a fall Covid booster to take the officer position. “The vaccine remains the best protection against serious illness and hospitalizations from Covid this winter.”

The NHS will remind more than 6 million people who are at risk or over 65 who have not yet had a booster this fall to book a jab next week.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are putting a laser focus on the issues that affect patients the most: ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists, and last month the Secretary for Health and Social Care established a Plan for patients to improve NHS care this winter and next.

“As part of this, we will invest an additional £500 million in adult social care funding to speed up discharge from hospital and support the social care workforce, freeing up beds for patients who need them.”

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