Vital services are prepared for disruption as the impact of the spread of Covid-19 in Cambridgeshire remains uncertain and risks remain.
Health bosses are worried about the effects of the third wave with the “hard to predict” situation but say the current pressure on hospitals is “manageable”.
However, there are concerns that the county is “at the start of a wave” with the impact of students returning to school after shuffling over the holidays is not yet known.
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Managing Director Roland Sinker told staff: “We are in the best possible position we could have hoped to be in, but we are still in this world of watchful waiting.”
The latest data released by NHS England shows confidence saw staff absences fluctuate from 479 on December 13 to a peak of 585 on December 22. Of these, 121 and 208 respectively were due to illness / self-isolation due to Covid.
The number of patients treated at Addenbrooke’s hospital with Covid-19 stood at 53 with seven in intensive care on Tuesday, January 4, compared to 65 and eight on Friday, December 31, before which the figures had continued to rise increase throughout the month. . However, on Thursday (January 6) the numbers were up to 70 and eight.
As of Tuesday, 242 staff were absent due to illness / self-isolation due to Covid, which was down from the previous week.
Dr Ewen Cameron, COO and consultant gastroenterologist at CUH, told staff: ‘The first thing is that the prevalence of Covid in the community still appears to be increasing quite sharply, certainly in southern Cambridgeshire and in eastern Cambridgeshire, especially among younger people. , but also, not anymore in the over 60s.
âThere’s an early sign that things might have peaked at Cambridge, but I think it’s probably a little too early to be really sure. And clearly, there is the impact of the Christmas mix in schools which goes back even today to play in there. “
He said the situation looked “pretty edgy” on Friday, but improved over the weekend and said: “The pressure on the hospital right now is manageable.”
This compares to a very diverse national image, with significant pressure on services elsewhere in the country.
Dr Cameron noted that the “vast majority, if not all” of the patients at the hospital suffered from the Delta variant and that it mostly affected unvaccinated people or those with other health conditions.
âWe are looking forward to the next two weeks, but we are happy to have reached the start of the year in the position in which we find ourselves. I would certainly have accepted this position if you had offered it to me two weeks ago. ” he said.
Dr Cameron said the trust has recorded a significant number of staff absences, putting considerable pressure on those who are able to work.
He added: âWe have sometimes seen a really large number of absences.
âThere are still a lot of people either with Covid or in isolation, but the position was certainly much better than it has sometimes been over the past two weeks. “
A spokesperson for the Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust added: ‘We have tried and tested plans in place to deal with the increased pressures of winter and coronaviruses, and through the hard work of our dedicated staff, all of our care emergency functions normally. It is really important that people access the NHS as they usually would if they had any worrying health symptoms.
“As our staff continue to provide care to those in need, the public can play their part in protecting themselves by getting the first, second and recall, as tens of millions of others already have. do.”
Staff issues have improved at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), which also struggled during the holiday season.
The latest data shows the lack of trust rate has fallen to around six percent.
Marcus Bailey, COO at EEEAST, told the Cambridge Independent: âWe have seen an increase in staff absences due to Covid-19 as New Year’s Day approaches, but over the past few days the number of absences has dropped slightly to around 6%. This continues to present challenges for us as our departments remain very busy.
âThe public can help us by only calling 999 for life-threatening emergencies and looking for alternatives where appropriate, such as NHS 111 online, pharmacies and GPs.
âThroughout the pandemic we have had a dedicated team of ‘Covid managers’ whose role is to support and advise our staff on all matters related to Covid-19 and they have proven invaluable in handing staff over to work as quickly as possible and manage our absence rate.
A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council, which is responsible for social care in the county, said: ‘Our social workforce is affected by Covid in the same way as any other workforce. We see the impact of isolating people as either direct contacts or with Covid, but we continually review our business continuity plans to ensure that we continue to meet our legal requirements and that people continue to receive them. necessary care and support. “
Cambridgeshire Police say they continue to monitor absence rates. A force spokesperson said: âWe continue to closely monitor absence rates within the police and have plans in place to manage resources. Absences related to Covid do not currently affect our ability to provide our normal service to the public. “
Absences are also closely monitored at Greater Cambridge Shared Waste, where a shortage of waste management teams due to Covid led to the suspension of green bin collections in the city of Cambridge and southern Cambridgeshire on December 13.
A spokesperson for the service said the black and blue bin collections will continue to operate normally, without interruption for now. Green bin collections remain suspended until Wednesday, January 12, as indicated by the service last month, with recovery plans underway. Residents are encouraged to check their council’s websites – cambridge.gov.uk or scambs.gov.uk – for updates starting January 10. In East Cambridgeshire, green bin collections are expected to resume on January 28.