Heart attack patients have reportedly been told to ‘get a lift’ to hospital as the NHS braces itself for a “tsunami of Omicron cases”.
The omicron coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly across the UK and reportedly patients have been asked to make their own way to the hospital as ambulance waits could hit two hours.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi the Public health director for Lancashire commented on the rising number of cases. Dr Karunanithi said: “We are bracing ourselves for a tsunami of Omicron cases.
“We are seeing a shift from 20s and 30s and 40-year-olds being affected by Omicron to a more 60-plus age group. And that is causing us concern as well as staff absence.
“Lancashire is beginning to experience what London did at the beginning of last month and, of course, London is better resourced and well organised compared to other regions.”
The Royal Lancaster Infirmary is already running at 100 per cent capacity. A staff member revealed: “The hospital is full. We are running at 100% capacity. It is a case of one out, one in.
“As soon as a bed is free there is someone waiting to take that bed.
“Some care homes also have problems with staff sickness. The whole system is struggling.”
In a note seen by the Health Service Journal, call handlers were reportedly asked to “consider asking the patient to be transported by friends or family”.
North East ambulance director Mathew Beattie commented on the mounting pressures on the ambulance service. He said: “Since Christmas Eve, we’ve seen a 141% increase in Covid absences from 108 to 261; and an overall sickness absence of 18% across all areas of the ambulance service.
“Traditionally New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are the busiest time for our service, but this year was the most challenging yet – taking 6,754 emergency 999 calls and 18,859 NHS111 calls over the course of the weekend.
“Patient safety is our top priority and the impact of increased activity and staff sickness, linked to the Omicron virus, meant that we needed to act to protect our response to the critically unwell.
“We are experiencing long waits within the dispatch and clinician stacks coupled with delays in handover of patients at hospital which reflects the pressures being felt across other parts of the system.
“As a result, we implemented measures from the highest level of our clinical escalation plan on Friday 31 December to avoid a further deterioration of response times for patients and minimise the risk and harm being caused to life-threatened patients.”
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