NHS in Hampshire 'under huge pressure' - but Omicron impact not as bad as expected

THE NHS has been struggling through a 'difficult' winter - but the impact of Omicron is not as bad as first feared.

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 2:27 pm

Health bosses gave a Covid-19 update to Hampshire County Council this week, where they outlined how the Omicron variant has impacted the health and social care sector.

They explained that although there has been a significant increase to the infection rate, the number of hospitalisations and deaths have been lower than they had estimated.

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QA Hospital wards have been busy this winter. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Dr Derek Sandeman, chief medical officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System, said: 'This is a really challenging time for the NHS, and people are struggling out there.

'Make no mistake - the NHS is still under huge pressure and that's down to a combination of things. There's the usual winter pressure, plus the number of patients catching up with the elective care backlog.

'In November we were anxious that the impact of Omicron would be insurmountable. Fortunately that's not how it's turned out, but we're still battling a huge quantity of work.'

The rate of infection in Hampshire rose from 742 per 100,000 people on December 15 to 903.6 on January 12.

Dr Joanna Jeffries, the county council’s assistant director of public health, said: ‘We are seeing increases among all age groups, but the highest rates are in the extremes of age groups.

‘That rate of infection among the elderly population has lead to some Covid-19 outbreaks in the social care sector, but we're not seeing many hospitalisations or severe cases with that.

‘It's being picked up through regular testing and is being well-contained, thanks to care workers picking it up early and the vaccine boosters preventing it from spreading.’

Yesterday, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that the country's Plan B measures would be coming to an end.

This means compulsory face coverings in public places and Covid passports will be dropped next Thursday.

But Dr Sandeman said the pressure on the NHS won't be ending soon.

‘I don't want people to think that everything is fine now, or that we're cruising through the rest of this pandemic,’ he added.

‘Things might not be as bad as we feared and we're going in the right direction, but every health worker is struggling at the moment.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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