The Welsh Government has announced that it will publish a ‘Winter Protection Plan’ next month on how health and social care services will be supported through the “most challenging of times”.
Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething said the plan will set out expectations for health and social care to ensure the sectors have the resources in place to cope with additional pressures over the coming months.
He explained: “As we approach this winter we are facing the most challenging of times. Winter for our health and social services colleagues is always difficult, however, the occurrence of COVID-19 has added a further dimension, representing an unprecedented positon.
“The health and social care sector must remain open for everyone and the Winter Protection Plan will ensure that we are working together to achieve this and that all our essential services are flexible and agile to meet those needs.”
Gething said the Winter Protection Plan will “build on the four harms approach” used to underpin existing planning arrangements with health and social care to date. These include:-
- Harm from COVID-19 itself
- Harm from overwhelmed NHS and social care system
- Harm from reduction in non COVID-19 activity
- Harm from wider societal actions/ lockdown
The Minister said more details will be published next month, but this news has been met with criticism from the Welsh Conservative Shadow Health and Social Services Minister, Andrew Davies, who said that frontline staff in Wales need a “clear plan” as soon as possible.
“I appreciate the demands on government have been substantial in the response to coronavirus but with winter just around the corner this delay from Labour’s health minister is concerning,” he explained.
“It’s vital critical pathways resume and that all avenues are explored by the Welsh Labour-led Government to create capacity within our NHS to handle the massive backlog which has built up through the suspension of services.
“People are worried and yet we are still waiting on key detail when it comes to flu vaccines, how backlogs will be managed and where people should go if they’re unable to get access to A&E, or how our GPs cope with any influx of people that are turned away.”