Covid-19 – Omicron

Posted:

Update: 31/12/2021

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said:

“We don’t yet know the full scale of rising omicron cases and how this will affect people needing NHS treatment, but having hit a ten month high for the number of patients in hospital with Covid while wrestling with sharply increasing staff absences, we are doing everything possible to free up beds and get people home to their loved ones – and in the last week hundreds more beds were freed up each day compared to the week before.

“On top of the incredible efforts made by staff to get people out of hospital safely, we are also making every possible preparation for the uncertain challenges of omicron, including setting up new Nightingale surge hubs at hospitals across the country and recruiting thousands of nurses and reservists.

“The NHS is on a war footing, and while staff remain braced for the worst, with covid absence for NHS staff almost doubling in the past fortnight, keeping as many colleagues as possible at work on the frontline and minimising absence, will be essential in the next few weeks.

“As staff throw everything at preparing for this next wave, the public can play their part in protecting themselves by getting the first, second and booster jabs, as tens of millions of others already have.”


Update: 30/12/2021

NHS Plans New Nightingale Facilities In Response To Omicron

The NHS is setting up new Nightingale surge hubs at hospitals across the country as part of preparations for a potential wave of Omicron admissions.

Temporary structures capable of housing around 100 patients will be erected in the grounds of eight hospitals across the country, with work starting as early as this week.

These Nightingale hubs will improve NHS resilience if the record number of COVID-19 infections leads to a surge in admissions and outstrips existing capacity.

Placing the new Nightingale facilities in hospital grounds will make it easier to flex staff and equipment if there is a surge in admissions, providing access to diagnostics and emergency care if required.

NHS Trusts have also been asked to identify areas such as gyms and education centres that can be converted to accommodate patients and more Nightingale sites could be added to create up to 4,000 “super surge” beds across the country.

The move comes as hospitals are using hotels, hospices and care homes to safely discharge as many people who are medically fit to leave as possible.

NHS staff have been working over Christmas on the plans to create 4,000 “super surge” beds across the health service. By comparison, a large district hospital might typically have around 500 beds.

If hospitals need to activate the new beds after exhausting every other option, equipment previously used for the original Nightingale hospitals will be rapidly distributed to them.

The new Nightingale facilities would take patients who, although not fit for discharge, need minimal support and monitoring while they recover from illness, freeing up regular ward beds to provide care for those with more intensive needs.

Patients may include those recovering from COVID-19 who are no longer infectious and do not need intensive oxygen therapy.

The units would be led by hospital consultants and nurses, but with other clinical and non-clinical staff brought in with rapid training to be able to perform routine checks and other tasks.

The Nightingale surge facilities are the latest in a series of actions taken by NHS leaders in the last couple of weeks in response to the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant and the prospect of another major wave of people needing hospital treatment for the virus.

Local NHS teams are already working closely with councils, social care and hospices to support as many people as possible to be discharged safely from hospital, either to other local facilities or with support to recover in their own home.

A national deal with Hospice UK will see up to 4,800 people a day who need ongoing monitoring, but don’t need to be in hospital, be supported either in a hospice bed or through Hospice@Home teams.

Local leaders have also been told to consider using hotels and care hubs in care homes to provide places for people to recover before going home, rather than in hospital wards.

The use of virtual wards, where patients get monitoring technology and regular check-ins from clinicians to allow them to return home earlier safely are also being ramped up by hospital teams, while GPs also have access to up to 250,000 pulse oximeters so that COVID-19 positive patients can monitor their own blood oxygen levels at home ensuring only those who need to be are admitted to hospital.

The first eight of the Nightingale surge hubs will be at the following hospitals:

  • North West – Royal Preston
  • North East and Yorkshire – Leeds, St James’ site
  • Midlands – Solihull Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham and University Hospitals Leicester
  • East of England – Lister Hospital, Stevenage
  • London – St George’s
  • South East – William Harvey Hospital, Ashford
  • South West – North Bristol

01/12/2021

Partners across Cheshire and Merseyside are working to deliver a huge increase to the Covid-19 vaccination programme – with the aim of offering everyone over 18 a booster by the end of January.

A year on from the first jab administered in Cheshire and Merseyside around 4.5 million doses have now been delivered.

But with the new Omicron variant being identified in the area the Cheshire and Merseyside HCP vaccine team is leading all partners in the response to further ramp up the number of jabs provided across the patch.

Although the full operational plans are still being worked up it is possible that military and other support will be used to help deliver the new ambitions of the programme.

In the meantime, everyone who is currently eligible for their first, second or booster dose is urged to come forward as soon as possible. Those between 18-40 should wait to be contacted, or for further announcements at this stage.

Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect you and your loved ones against Covid-19 and will also protect you from serious illness if you do catch the virus.

The activity comes as temporary and precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant in the UK came into force on Tuesday, November 30.

Face coverings are now compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.

All travellers arriving into the country are also now required to take a PCR test on or before day two and self-isolate until they have received a negative test result. These PCR tests can be purchased from private providers. Free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose.

All close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant are also required to isolate for 10 days regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

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