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Care sector 'under extreme pressure', admit officials as Norfolk public services battle Covid staff absences



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Norfolk’s public services are grappling with staff absences caused by record-high Covid infections, as a county council official warns that social care “is under extreme pressure”.

Covid cases have topped 100,000 across the UK every day for almost two weeks and soared to more than 200,000 in the latest 24 hour period.

The Cabinet Office has asked public sector leaders to prepare for “worst case scenarios” of 10 per cent, 20 per cent and 25 per cent absence rates.

Issued to members of the UK public in February 2021 for emergency service key workers and teachers to test themselves for Covid 19 virus. Includes guidance instructions, swabs, test viles and liquid.. (54075580)
Issued to members of the UK public in February 2021 for emergency service key workers and teachers to test themselves for Covid 19 virus. Includes guidance instructions, swabs, test viles and liquid.. (54075580)

Norfolk County Council’s director of people Sarah Shirtcliff said: “Our public-facing services such as libraries are running as advertised, but the social care system is under extreme pressure supporting hospitals.

Ms Shirtcliff urged “everyone to get their booster vaccination and to be cautious to minimise pressure on health and care.”

The county’s assistant chief fire officer, Scott Norman, said the emergency service currently had “a higher than usual number of both firefighters and non-operational staff” off sick with Covid-19.

He said however that “rigid mitigation measures” had meant the service was “able to maintain full operational duties, including fire crew availability for incidents across Norfolk”.

“We would remind the public that we remain available, but only to call 999 in a genuine emergency,” he added.

The county’s police force said however it was experiencing “no issues in relation to providing a normal service to the public”.

Staff absences have forced authorities across the UK to scale back bin collections, including Cheshire East, Birmingham, Chelmsford, Basingstoke and Greater Manchester’s Tameside borough.

But Norfolk’s district councils insisted they were not currently suffering any significant impact from reduced staff numbers.

Both the Breckland and North Norfolk district councils said they too had experienced no disruption to services.

The Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had planned to hold a meeting of its primary care commissioning committee today, but agreed to cancel that meeting “due to the operational pressures in response to increasing the booster vaccination programme”.

Broadland, West Norfolk and South Norfolk councils – and the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which provides Norfolk’s mental health services – were also approached for comment.



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