NHS asks 200 council staff to help in Norfolk hospitals

The UK's chief medical officers have warned that the NHS could be overwhelmed within 21 days in some areas.

The UK's chief medical officers have warned that the NHS could be overwhelmed within 21 days in some areas. - Credit: PA

Staff at Norfolk County Council have been asked if they will work in Norfolk hospitals to help cope with the pressure of treating so many people with coronavirus.

The council, through the Norfolk Resilience Forum, has been asked if it could provide what is known as mutual aid - making staff available to give the NHS assistance, for the next four weeks - in a signal of just how much pressure the county's hospitals are under.

More than 91pc of beds at Norfolk's hospitals are full, with more than 770 patients who have tested positive for coronavirus currently being treated. More than 40 are in critical care beds.

And staff at County Hall have been asked if they might be able to step in to support the NHS as it grapples with the pressure. It is understood a request has been made to see if up to 200 staff could assist.

Nurses in uniform and face masks at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

The team on Brundall ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are among the frontline staff we are thanking today. - Credit: NNUH

One staff member said on social media that they had been asked if they might be able to help with food and observation in wards or in back office roles.

At Norfolk County Council's coronavirus press conference, Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health, said the graph of hospital admissions was "almost vertical", amid rising coronavirus cases.

People are being urged by a new campaign to go even further than the current lockdown rules.

Andrew Proctor has sent a scathing letter to the Planning Inspectorate over its decision to allow 17

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor.  - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: "There is an ongoing discussion with the NHS, so we can finalise exactly what they want, on the one side, and what we can provide.

"Now, we know we can provide resource, working through the Norfolk Resilience Forum. We've got furloughed people from services which have been temporarily suspended.

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"We can assist the NHS in all this on non-clinical work. We are definitely working together to get this right and we will provide the resource which the NHS require.

"There's also the care side, through care agencies and we are doing additional work to support staff in the care agencies to recognise the issue of both health and care services are being supported."

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said additional staff would be to help assist with non-clinical roles.

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