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Omicron spread set to cause further disruption for health and social care services

A severe shortage of staff across all sectors may lead to some temporary changes to the way services are delivered across our region.

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The following joint statement has been drafted and endorsed by Swansea Bay University Health Board, Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, Swansea Council, third sector partners, and citizen and carer representatives:

Community-based health and social care services in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea face increasing pressures as concerns grow over staffing shortages.

As the rates of COVID-19 infection continue to rise within our region, we once again find ourselves in 'emergency response mode'.

With the level of Omicron transmission being significantly greater than the Delta variant, we are seeing large numbers of employees across all sectors having to isolate either because they have contracted the virus, or they have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive.

We have learnt a lot from previous peaks of COVID-19, and the significant amount of preparation and planning we have done will put us in the best possible position to manage this latest challenge successfully.

As we strive to manage this escalating workforce crisis, we are advising residents who receive health and social care services that they may experience some short-term disruption in the coming weeks.

We are currently bracing ourselves for the peak of the Omicron wave, which is expected in late January, and would be hugely grateful for the same level of patience and understanding you have demonstrated throughout this pandemic.

Although the current pressures are being felt across all sectors, services supporting the most vulnerable in society such as district nursing, domiciliary care, day services and residential care homes are under immense strain, and all avenues for the provision of additional capacity are being explored.

Colleagues across all organisations are working in close partnership to monitor the position, which is currently changing by the hour.

Some care homes are operating at reduced capacity, and although the number of residents who are acutely ill is low thanks to the successful roll-out of the vaccination programme, the situation is becoming ever more challenging as staffing shortages continue to worsen.

Thank you for bearing with us during this tremendously difficult period.

Please be assured that we are working with partners across Neath Port Talbot and Swansea to build resilience in order to protect our most vulnerable residents during this critical time.

If you have any queries or concerns about the support you or a loved one are receiving, please don't hesitate to contact your service provider.