NHS services in Northumberland under 'significant pressure' for time of year, warn health chiefs

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Concerns have been raised about the ‘significant pressure’ being placed on NHS services in Northumberland before the onset of winter.

Health chiefs are urging residents to do all they can to protect themselves against Covid to limit demand on NHS services over the coming months.

The warning comes amid concerns about rising Covid case rates in some non-school age groups.

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While the 10-19 age group still has the highest proportion of Covid cases (19.43%), latest data from Public Health England shows the 40-49 and 50-59 age brackets (16.06% and 15.47% respectively) are only marginally behind.

Fresh concerns have been raised about Covid in Northumberland.Fresh concerns have been raised about Covid in Northumberland.
Fresh concerns have been raised about Covid in Northumberland.

Latest data from Public Health England shows there were 1,305 positive cases in the week to November 7. The highest infection rate is in Sleekburn ward at 824.9 positive cases per 100,000 population.

Liz Morgan, Director of Public Health at Northumberland County Council, said: “Covid case rates in Northumberland remain high and have been increasing in some age groups other than school age children, which is a real cause of concern.

“Our NHS services are under significant pressure and have been for some weeks now. This is resulting in significant waiting times in emergency departments and limited bed availability in our local Trust, but is also reflected across our GP practices, ambulance services and NHS 111.

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“What is most concerning is that this is occurring in early November, before we would normally expect winter pressures to have an impact.”

Residents are being urged to do all they can to protect themselves and help limit demand on NHS services by getting the Covid vaccine, along with booster and flu jabs if eligible.

Liz continued: “If you haven't yet had a first dose of the Covid vaccine, the door is always open. And if you have had a first dose, please take up the offer of the second dose and the booster if you are eligible. We know that immunity will drop off after a period of time, even if you're fully vaccinated so having that booster is crucial.”

Richard Hay, head of planning and operations at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), added: “We are by no means out of the woods yet in our fight against Covid-19, infection rates remain high across the county and our region.

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"However, Northumberland residents have shown incredible determination to beat the virus and great enthusiasm for the vaccine, demonstrated emphatically by the incredible number of doses given, and the best uptake rates in England.

“It's really important that this enthusiasm continues into the winter months to help alleviate significant pressures on our NHS services.

"The booster programme for over 50s and the clinically vulnerable is well underway and is a really important extra dose of protection for eligible individuals, as is the annual flu vaccination - please come forward to get yours when you are invited.

"The ‘evergreen’ offer of a first and second dose also remains for anybody who is yet to receive it. The programme has also been extended to 12-15 year olds.

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“The vaccine works - it is safe and effective and will help drive down transmission of the virus in our county and protect our most vulnerable residents, families and loved ones against serious illness from Covid-19.”

Cllr Wendy Pattison, cabinet member for adult wellbeing at Northumberland County Council, said: “The pandemic is far from over and the winter months ahead will be challenging. But we must all continue to work together to protect our communities, towns and villages, and support the NHS at this difficult time.”

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