Today I have had a series of calls and online visits regarding health with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and the Head of Public Health for Essex, as well as locally with Springfield Hospital and the head of the Clinical Commissioning Group for Mid Essex. I thought I should update followers. I am sorry this is sombre news.
Firstly, some good news from Springfield Hospital. They are working extremely hard to care for non-covid related patients and around three quarters of the patients they are treating are NHS patients. During the peak of the virus earlier this year they diverted surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists from Springfield to help with the ITU beds at Broomfield. This is not happening at the moment. However, they are only able to treats about 86% of the capacity that they had pre-covid so this means that waiting lists are still lengthy. They are prioritising cancer surgery as well as more urgent cases such as urgent eye surgery and urology. About half their NHS patients are referred to them from Broomfield in order to help with hospital capacity and backlog and the other half are referrals from GPs. There is concern that if there is another spike in Covid cases affecting our local hospitals then some of the urgent non-covid work that is done at Springfield and other hospitals may again need to be delayed.
On a national level the Deputy Chief Medical Officer warned us of his grave concerns. Cases are rising across the country and the R rate is between 1.2 and 1.5. There is evidence that in the most strongly affected areas of the North West, North East and now Midlands there is an increase in cases amongst older people as well as in younger age groups. This inevitably will lead to increased hospitalisations, which we are already starting to see. The Director of Public Health for Essex warned us of the very significant increase in cases in Essex in recent days. Please folk, follow the guidance, Hands, Face, Space and above all maintain social distancing to help prevent this spread.
For my catch up with the head of our local Clinical Commissioning Group I was joined by Dr Elizabeth Towers from the Whitley House GP practice. Local GPs practices have worked hard in vaccinating many more over 65 year-olds against flu this year than normal, and the jab will be rolled out to younger age groups starting next month – more info to follow, and thank you to all practice nurses and staff who have worked so hard. Most GP practices are seeing patients face to face as well as online or by phone depending on the cases. I was also told that the CCG is working with GPs on projects to help those recovering from the symptoms of long-Covid. Some constituents have asked me about the Wood Street Surgery, this has not closed permanently but due to the small size of this surgery it is not considered safe to open it in a Covid-secure manner during the pandemic.
Whilst we do know much more about Covid than we did in March it remains a deadly disease for many people especially in older age groups and long-covid is impacting young and old. If cases to continue to rise this will impact on important treatments for patients with other conditions.