Wales’ healthcare unions say staff “beyond exhausted” a plea to public to “do all they can to protect the NHS”
Unions representing frontline healthcare workers have joined forces to highlight the impact the rise coronavirus cases is having on the staff providing care, and are urging the public to do all they can to protect the NHS.
BMA Cymru Wales, British Association of Occupational Therapists, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, GMB, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing Wales, Society of Radiographers, Unison and Unite say staff are “beyond exhausted” and they have significant concerns regarding the impact of the five day Christmas period on infection rates, as well as the subsequent impact a third spike would have on the Welsh NHS and its ability to cope.
The nine organisations “fully welcomed” all of the measures announced by Welsh Government today and called on health boards to implement without delay, agreeing that NHS staff and patients must be protected.
Health minister Vaughan Gething published a written statement today on NHS pressures in Wales, in it he said: “As we move further towards winter, it is vital that our health and social care system in Wales is prepared.”
“I am firm in my commitment to support NHS organisations to take local decisions and action to continue to provide care and support to the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
He said he was “choosing to act now” before we see sustained surges in demand over Christmas and into the New Year.
Due to a “larger number of people requiring high levels of care is anticipated over the coming weeks as we see higher levels of Covid-19 in our communities alongside visible system pressures which arise in this most challenging period for the NHS.”
A “framework” of actions have been agreed for “local consideration” by NHS organisations, they include, maximising use and deployment of the workforce; ensuring people only access 999 or hospital care if essential; reducing long delays in crucial parts of the system; improving patient flow; and enabling people to leave hospital when ready, reducing the risk of readmission.
“These actions will ease the pressures on the NHS by allowing for services and beds to be reallocated and for staff to be redeployed to priority areas.” Said Mr Gething.
A statement from the Joint Health Trade Unions, said: “If pressure on the service continues to increase, we must be realistic about what it will mean for patients in hospitals where every bed is full – making treatment difficult and waiting lists longer.”
“We are not seeking to change the decision that has been made about Christmas, but we have a responsibility to help minimise any impact on the health service and its staff and patients.”
“Staff are truly exhausted, mentally and physically, and they are extremely concerned about what January will bring.”
“All we ask, as we have done throughout the pandemic, is that when you make your choices about Christmas, you take the risk seriously and minimise contact as much as possible.”
“Covid-19 has not gone away.”
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