A ‘DOUBLE whammy’ of pressure, caused by the pandemic and the Omicron variant, is creating ‘real problems’ for the entire health and social care system, says BCP cabinet member.

Struggling health and social care services are battling against decreased staffing levels due to the Omicron variant alongside a myriad of issues exasperated by the pandemic.

One of the most critical concerns is that of bed blocking which saw more than 200 medically fit patients unable to leave Bournemouth and Poole hospitals, overseen by the University Hospitals Dorset Trust, last week.

This is up one third on the 150 just before Christmas.

'We're doing everything we can'

Portfolio holder for people and homes Councillor Karen Rampton, who is responsible for adult social care and housing services, said: “We are working together as a system, so it’s a collective responsibility and I think we’ve got the double whammy - the effect of the Omicron variant is impacting on the ability of our staff across health and social care.

“We're doing everything we can to enable access to the services but there is huge pressure at the moment.”

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The crisis-hit adult social care system is struggling to provide the staff needed to deliver ongoing occupational support once a patient leaves hospital.

Bournemouth Echo: Royal Bournemouth HospitalRoyal Bournemouth Hospital

Cllr Rampton said: “I want to emphasise the point that this is not just about social care, this is about how we react as a system and it’s about stopping people going into hospital unnecessarily in the first place and then everybody working together to ensure a safe discharge and for those people who require ongoing care we need to work together to provide that wrap around support.

“That is something that’s a bit of an issue at the moment - when people need that ongoing, occupational therapy sort of support - the staff numbers across the system are affected by the variant and by the period that people have to isolate and that’s causing a real problem.”

UHD joined other hospital trusts last week in declaring a critical incident, because of a range of pressures, including staff shortages, lack of bed capacity, volume of patients and rising Covid infections.

The critical incident status was stood down later on Thursday afternoon.

However hospital bosses are looking at the peak of demand arriving in the middle of the month and warned that there may be several such declarations at UHD in the coming weeks as the hospitals work through the surge.