Bosses of health and emergency services in Northamptonshire have declared a county-wide major incident over covid.

The announcement was made yesterday (07/07) by the Northamptonshire Local Resilience Forum, which is a group made up of multiple agencies such as NHS organisations, local authorities, Fire and Rescue Service and the Police.

An announcement was made in response to rising demand on services and staffing levels caused by the pandemic.

Northamptonshire is one of multiple areas in the UK to declare a major incident over the rise in cases caused by the Omicron variant of covid-19, with several NHS hospital trusts and local health boards making the declaration in the last week.

Most areas of the county are reporting a coronavirus infection rate at well over 1,000 cases per 100,000, with some having done so since before Christmas.

In a statement shared by multiple bodies, including the Northamptonshire CCG and Northampton General Hospital, the group said the calling of a major incident has been done to help co-ordinate essential service operations and plan for sustained staffing level pressure.

The statement read, “Calling a major incident bolsters health and public services ability to join forces and co-ordinate activity to help continuity of essential services and help manage and plan for sustained pressure caused by COVID-19 on staffing levels.

“We would like to reassure our community that urgent services and time-critical procedures will continue, and we will contact anyone whose treatment is delayed – rebooking appointments once affected services can safely be reinstated.

“We understand this situation is far from ideal and some of you will be concerned, and we apologise for the worry this may cause.  All affected patients will be contacted about what to do during this time and be offered information on alternative services that are able to support them.”

The statement continued to encourage people to book their booster jab, and that they would be looking to reinstate affected services as soon as they were in a position to do so safely.

“Our community can help us help them by ensuring they are seeking help from the most appropriate health services, and only visiting A&E for serious accidents and emergencies. If you are unwell, visit NHS 111 online for 24/7 advice about the most appropriate care for your needs. 

“Anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated is urged to book in their jab as soon as possible to protect themselves and their families and reduce pressure on health services.

“We understand this is a difficult position for our local NHS, care and public services to be in and we thank our fantastic community and staff for their patience and support over what is a very challenging time for all of us.  Please be assured we are doing everything we can to reinstate affected services as quickly as possible, but we will only be in a position to do this when we are confident we can do this safely.”

Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey, Chair of the Local Resilience Forum, who is chair of the forum, said declaring the incident was a move to help resource pooling between bodies.

He said, “There is already exceptional working together between partners to help the county face up to this challenge. Declaring this incident is a necessary step to make sure we are able to share resources where necessary which is increasingly important as more staff need to self-isolate.”

In explaining the move, West Northamptonshire Council leader Cllr Jonathan Nunn said that they would be asking for patience as they anticipate services to be stretched.

He said, “Staff across both public and private care homes are already stretched, and absences due to COVID-19 transmission are growing in number.

“We will need to look to redeploy staff from other duties to help manage this emerging situation, and all of our services will be very stretched during the coming weeks, so we would ask everyone to please be patient with us.”