Buckinghamshire Council, in consultation with health service partners, has declared a ‘Major Incident’ amid fears the rapid rise in the number of COVID-19 cases could overwhelm the county’s health and social care services.
Leader of the Council Martin Tett said: “Whilst today’s announcement about the approval of the Oxford vaccine is excellent news, we still need to deal with the deteriorating situation we face immediately across the county. Figures up to 24 December put the number of cases now up at 514 per 100,000 and current projections are expecting this to increase to closer to 800 per 100,000 by next week. The average COVID-19 rate per 100,000 of the population in England is currently 402.6. We believe that this rapid increase is due to the spread of the new, more transmissible COVID variant across much of the south east, particularly prior to the introduction of the Tier 4 regulations. Of real concern is that this increase is also being seen in our older age groups. Our rate in the over 60 years population is now putting our health and social care services under very severe pressure – the rates in this age group have gone up by over 60% and we think this will continue at least for the next two weeks. I would encourage everyone to stay at home as much as possible and help those who are most vulnerable, by offering to collect their shopping and prescriptions etc.”
Neil Macdonald, Chief Executive Officer for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Due to a rise in the number of people being admitted to hospital with COVID-19, along with the need to maintain services across the Trust, some temporary changes have been made to ensure safe and appropriate staffing levels at all times and to ensure that we have enough beds to meet current and anticipated demand. This includes postponing or delaying some non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments but urgent operations, including cancer, will continue as planned. I want to reassure you that we are still here for you and if you are offered an appointment would urge you to keep it – but we need your help at this really busy time to keep our hospitals for those that need them most and are seriously ill.
If you are feeling unwell and are not sure which service you need, contact NHS 111 for advice. They will make sure that you are seen by the right people, in the right place as quickly as possible whether that is your GP, the Urgent Treatment Centre or the Emergency Department (A&E). They can book you an appointment so that you won’t have to wait about unnecessarily.” Dr Raj Bajwa, Clinical Chair, NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group added: “If you have a less urgent concern or a minor illness, we would remind everyone that excellent sources of health advice are also available via the Ask NHS app, NHS 111 online and at your local pharmacy. By using these options for minor health concerns, you can help GP practices ensure that we support patients with the most urgent needs more quickly. Lots of other health and well-being information, including advice on self-care and looking after your mental health, is available via the Buckinghamshire Ready for Winter page.” On Monday, figures showed the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 across hospitals in England was at a record high of 20,426 – exceeding the previous peak of about 19,000 in April.