Swift action needed to stop Essex major incident spiralling out of control

Local authorities in Essex declared a “major incident” today as the number of coronavirus cases threatens to overwhelm health services in the county.

Hospitals are struggling with “significant growing demand,” says the Essex Resilience Forum, a body drawing together NHS, emergency services and local authorities.

The announcement has been made in response to a “significant growing demand” on hospitals across the county and will enable local leaders to seek further support from the Government, the Essex Resilience Forum (ERF) said.

UNISON Eastern head of health Sasha Savage said: “We’ve been lurching from one crisis to another during this pandemic and the government’s cack-handed efforts have done little to help.

“Even with an NHS hammered by a decade of austerity, much more could have been done to slow the spread of Covid-19: from PPE to testing, to a pig-headed insistence on keeping schools fully open.

“Once again it’s left to overworked and underpaid NHS staff to pick up the pieces.

“Everyone must now work together to stop this major incident spiralling further out of control. From ministers making sure local services have the resources they need to the public following Covid restrictions.”

The ERF said the number of patients in Essex receiving treatment for coronavirus was now exceeding the levels of the first wave and was expected to get worse.

The number of Covid deaths registered across the East of England hit 237 last week, up from 210 last week and the highest since the end of May, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Areas of concern included critical care and bed capacity, staff sickness and the ability to discharge patients quickly into safe environments.