The Somerset Guardian, 12th January 2022

Recently, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care wrote to Members of Parliament to set out the action being taken to maximise NHS capacity and ensure resilience as the pandemic continues. 
The Government has taken three main steps to increase capacity in hospitals: a reduction in admissions; improved flow within and out of hospitals including the new local Nightingales and extra support for the social care system.

To maximise resilience in the adult social care sector the focus is on lowering the risk of infection, managing the risk of workforce shortages and ensuring that the interface between hospitals and care is working well to support discharge. All of this is supported by significant taxpayer spending, including a £388.3 million extension to the Infection Control and Testing Fund as well as a further £60 million to support the local authority adult social care Omicron response. An additional £300 million is being given to boost staffing and support existing care work on top of £162.5 million announced in October.

The Secretary of State gave assurance that patients across England can access care as Omicron continues to place its demands on the NHS. Even though the data demonstrate that Omicron causes lower rates of hospitalisations the high number of cases mean that there are large numbers of hospitalisations.    

GPs have been asked to prioritise vaccinations and boosters for the most vulnerable, urgent or emergency care and other critical referral services. GPs will always be there for their patients, alongside NHS 111 and community pharmacy teams so it is important that people do not delay in coming forward with health concerns.

As the NHS and other agencies continue to be challenged it is important to remember that we need to behave cautiously, work from home where possible and isolate if Covid symptoms are present.

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