North Wales health board facing ‘very difficult’ situation as flu, Covid and NHS strikes combine
The North Wales health board is still battling a ‘twindemic’ as the health service prepares for two more days of strike action next month.
At the bi-monthly board meeting of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, interim chief executive Gill Harris said it had managed recent industrial action very well across the region, and thanked staff for allowing services to remain safe and responsive.
But in her update to the board, she warned that respiratory illnesses and Covid were still putting pressure on the health system.
She said: “We’re in an extraordinary scenario where we’ve got what we’re terming a ‘twindemic’ where we’re seeing significant attendances with flu and respiratory illnesses and indeed Covid is still there.
“We are still vaccinating and I would like to get that message across to our public and to our staff, that we are still vaccinating against flu and Covid.”
Ms Harris added that the co-ordinated strike action across several unions and health disciplines planned for early next month would be more difficult to manage.
This was expanded on by executive medical director Nick Lyons who said plans were in place to prioritise emergency care.
He said: “We have two days of industrial action on the 6th and 7th of February, a Monday and a Tuesday when our acute sites are particularly busy with primary care.
“This time we are seeing both unions within our ambulance service, GMB and Unite, with the Royal College of Nurses, Royal College of Midwives and our physiotherapists all exercising their rights.
“That combined effort is going to be very difficult and plans are already taking place in order to meet the challenge that will give us.
“Inevitably I’m afraid this will mean we have to make further reductions in planned care delivery on the two strike action days but also in the days leading up to that.
“Over the next two weeks there will be a significant number of meetings to ensure we are fully prepared for those days and prioritising emergency and unscheduled care.”
He added: “Planned care activity has been impacted and I wish to apologies to those patients that have had appointments and surgery cancelled. And we will see more of that in early February.”
By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter
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