A swine flu pandemic could “overwhelm” UK social care and lead to a disruption and restriction of services, the government has warned.
Department of Health guidance says it is “inevitable” that the health and care of some people will be affected when the number of people needing care exceeds capacity.
It highlights the “critical” interface between health and social care, and calls for a “common understanding of how patients should be cared for” across the sectors, including a need for social care commissioners and providers to approve plans before a pandemic occurs.
The DH warns that a “rising tide” of cases would have a major impact on primary and community care and social care, as it would produce “large numbers of sick people for considerable periods”.
The guidance says that in a pre-pandemic stage, health and social care bodies should identify essential or priority services, allowing them to assess “the potential gain in capacity by deferment of non-essential services”.
It also includes criteria under which patients could, in the event of a pandemic, be excluded from admission to secondary care from primary care or accident and emergency.
Guidance for children’s services and schools is also available from the Department for Children, Schools and Families and Teachernet.