A system-wide major incident in Northamptonshire has been declared as a “worrisome” staff shortage, meaning firefighters may be prepared to help health and social care workers.
During a media briefing on Friday, County Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey called it a “positive” move that meant workers in all areas could be flexible.
However, Mr Dovey said he expects the situation to worsen before it gets better.
He told reporters: “We are very, very hopeful that this will be of relatively short duration compared to the original wave of Covid.
“But we think … that it’s likely to get worse over the next few weeks before it gets better.
“So it’s about making sure we’re really doing what the public expects us to do because they’re paying all of our salaries.”
Detailing why a major event was announced, Mr Dovey said: “Most of this pressure is being felt in the health and social care sectors … but as we are seeing across the country, Staff absenteeism rates are high, admissions are rising in the absence of hospital and social care and the pressure in that system is creating full system pressure.
“In order to coordinate our activity and help each other where we can, we felt that the best way to do this was to announce a major event and to set up structures to be able to deal with it.” Was.”
Addressing how employees can now be flexible after the announcement of the major incident, Mr Dovey said: “What it is all about is that all public agencies, instead of working in their own silos, effectively come together.” have been
“For example, firefighters driving ambulances, we’ve been doing this since the beginning of 2020, we’re going to continue to do that, but we think that could accelerate over the next few weeks.
“The big event gives us a framework to be able to make that request and to actively plan for it over the next few weeks.
“We have been asked potentially whether firefighters can help transport people to vaccination centers who may not be able to get there but may be vulnerable and need their boosters.
“So clearly when we don’t have people doing community-based activity, we can redirect them to do that kind of work.”
Speaking about what support staff in other areas can provide for care homes, Mr Dovey said: “It’s hard to be very specific, we haven’t been asked to do anything in care homes.
“I think the point for us is that we can.
“We may be asked, for example, to help facilitate discharge from the hospital…
“It may well be that we help do things like PPE fitting because we are experts at that, and so it may well be that social care workers, or staff working in care homes Also, we can help them make sure they are using and fitting PPE properly.
“It may well be that we do some general logistics work around care homes and care homes to make sure they’ve got the items and all the equipment they need to do their jobs correctly.” Is.
“It really depends on how the situation is, or if the situation worsens over the next few weeks and what specific support is being sought by the social care sector.”
CareWise Northampton owner and president Justin Zwitt said the homecare service is under “enormous pressure”.
None of their 30 employees currently have COVID and all are working “flat out”, he said, adding that the provider could easily double, if not triple, its client list due to such high demand.
He told the PA news agency: “We are under tremendous pressure.
“Because really, we are the last night of defense for many of our customers, because if we are not able to take care of them seven days a week for whatever reason, the big question is, who will?
“So we are fully conscious of our duty of care. At the moment, it looks like we’re putting it away, but really for the grace of God. ,
Toby Sanders, chief executive of the NHS Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We would like to reassure our community that urgent services and time-critical procedures will continue, and that we will contact anyone who has a delay in treatment, a Bars can rebook appointments for the affected services. Be restored safely.”
The East Midlands Ambulance Service said teams faced “increasing demand” and a “rapidly changing landscape”, urging people to call 999 only for serious accidents and emergencies.