Omicron surge NHS plans in place for Devon, and why we need them.

Boris Johnson “will wait until later next week to decide whether further Covid restrictions are needed despite one in 25 people in England being infected in the run-up to Christmas.

The prime minister wants more time as the festive break means recent data is not considered reliable enough to draw firm conclusions about the spread of the Omicron variant.”

Consider the chilling context:

Experts at University of Warwick estimate that even if Omicron’s severity is just 20% of Delta’s, the current plan B restrictions are likely to lead to a peak in daily hospital admissions of just under 5,000 a day in England in early January.

They found that a return to step 2 restrictions from the spring – with a ban on indoor mixing and the rule of six outdoors – could reduce the peak, but only if they started almost immediately.

If they kicked in on Boxing Day the restrictions would reduce the central estimate on peak admissions to around 3,000 a day.

[January peak in 2021 was 4,134]

But if the restrictions didn’t start until January they would come too late and there would be no impact on hospital admissions, the models show.

Similar conclusions were reached by a separate team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

The scale of the January peak looks now to be “baked in” whatever Boris decides. – Owl

Omicron surge NHS plans in place for Devon

Let’s hope they really are “robust” – Owl

Anita Merritt

Omicron surge NHS plans are in place in Devon to cope with a predicted peak of cases in mid-January, but Exeter’s Nightingale Hospital won’t form part of them.

Earlier this year, the Nightingale Hospital in Sowton was decommissioned and is currently being used to provide diagnostic scans to local people and train overseas nurses.

‘Robust’ plans are said to be in place for hospital and community services, if required.

A spokesperson for the Integrated Care System for Devon said: “The NHS in Devon is expecting to be very busy in January due to a predicted surge in Omicron cases, peaking in mid-January.

“NHS organisations and local authorities are working in partnership to prepare for the surge and have robust plans in place for hospital and community services, should we need them.

“This includes working closely with local care homes to maximise the temporary use of any vacant beds for people who need some additional support once they are ready to be discharged from hospitals when home-based care may not be available.

“We are also working with local hospices to make more capacity and support available.”

From the New Year, the Nightingale will host:

  • Two operating theatres for day case / short stay elective (planned) orthopaedic procedures.
  • High volume cataract and diagnostic hub for glaucoma and medical retina.
  • A community diagnostic hub to include CT and MRI.
  • An outpatient rheumatology and infusions centre.

A spokesperson for the Integrated Care System for Devon said: “Exeter’s Nightingale was decommissioned as a Covid-19 hospital earlier this year and was purchased by local NHS organisations to help tackle waiting lists across Devon and the wider South West region.

“The Nightingale Hospital Exeter is due to provide a range of orthopaedic, ophthalmology and rheumatology services, alongside additional diagnostic services, to local people in the New Year. The aim is to better protect these planned care services by separating them from our main hospital sites.”

In the meantime, Devon residents are being advised to get fully vaccinated by taking up the offer of a booster.

Extra capacity for vaccinations – including first, second or booster doses – has been made available across Devon, and people can book (online or by calling 119) or walk in to get their jab.

Pop-up sessions are also promoted on Devon CCG’s Twitter feed.