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Orkney Health and Care preparing for ‘very tough winter’

Orkney care
Residents in Orkney are being asked to look out for vulnerable members of the community this winter. Image: Shutterstock

The chief officer of the partnership in charge of Orkney’s care services has warned of the possibility of “a very tough winter” as services face the impact of covid, the flu and the cost of living crisis.

Stephen Brown, from Orkney Health and Care, has asked Orcadians to look our for vulnerable members of the community during a winter where the cost of living, flu, and covid pose challenges to health services.

Mr Brown was responding to comments from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla). The organisation expressed disappointment over the lack of support included in the Scottish Government’s Winter Resilience Overview, during “a crisis in social care”.

Mr Brown said: “We will continue to focus on the areas of work in Orkney that we know will make a difference and even out, wherever possible, the pressure on the health and social care system throughout this coming winter.

“This includes supporting awareness raising among the public of the importance of winter vaccinations and using all of the resources at our disposal to meet people’s needs.

Orkney Health and Care anticipates more pressure than usual on services this winter

“There’s the potential for flu to have a more significant impact this year than the last few.

“There’s the possibility of further Covid outbreaks.

“So, we anticipate pressures on our health and care system.

“It is also likely that the cost of living crisis will have an impact on the health of some people within our communities.

“We’d also wish to appeal to the wider community to reach out and offer help and to check in regularly, to vulnerable people and to those you know who have caring responsibilities.

“This is key to getting through what could be a very tough winter.”

Orkney Health and Care are preparing for a tough winter. Image: Shutterstock

This comes not long after the spiralling state of Orkney’s social care was made abundantly clear in the council chamber.

Orkney Health and Care has been struggling to keep its staff numbers up and increasingly relying on locum workers.

However, with the demand for such workers high across the country high, Orkney is facing a difficult situation.

A least one councillor was left wondering “if the wheels were about to come off the wagon.”

Earlier this week Paul Kelly, Cosla’s Health and Social Care spokesman, said they were disappointed with a lack of government support.

“He said: “In the midst of a crisis in social care, Scotland’s communities deserve meaningful and concerted action to protect our health and social care services as much as possible, over what will be an extremely challenging winter.

Government’s winter resilience overview lacks coordination, claims Cosla’s health and social care spokesman

“Cosla has emphasised to Scottish Government for months now the importance of a strong, well-resourced, whole system approach to dealing with these pressures.

“Council leaders were disappointed with the lack of a response to the crisis in social care in the Winter Resilience Overview.”

Councillor Kelly added: “With no new action and no new investment being made available ahead of a challenging winter and amidst a cost of living crisis, councils are left to confront and react to these challenges as best as they can.

“I cannot stress enough how urgent and necessary a properly coordinated plan is. This must be developed at pace with local government and our delivery partners across social care.”

Approached for a response, a Scottish Government spokesman said it has worked with Cosla to identify priorities for this winter.

The spokesman said: “Pandemic backlogs, Brexit-driven staff shortages, and inflation costs have all contributed to make this the most challenging winter the NHS has ever faced.

“We have jointly agreed a number of priorities with Cosla which will help guide our services this winter.

Priorities were agreed says government spokesman

“Our Winter Resilience Overview sets out £600m of total investment to support winter resilience across our health and care system.

“These measures will help ensure people get the right care at the right time in the appropriate setting.

“This includes £124m for care at home capacity, £40m for Multi-Disciplinary Teams and £20m for interim care arrangements.

“Providing appropriate care for people either in their own home, or in a suitable care setting remains the statutory responsibility of local authorities.’’

“Our overview includes recruitment of 1,000 additional staff.

“It includes flexibility for boards to offer pensions recycling to support staff retention,.

“£45m of investment has been directed toward the ambulance service to support ongoing recruitment, service development, and winter planning.”