Concerns have been raised over the capacity of the NHS to deal with the coronavirus epidemic in a county where there is almost double the proportion of residents aged over 65 than the UK’s average.
A meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s Thirsk and Malton committee heard members highlight how staffing issues would be exacerbated if coronavirus patients needed to be treated at their homes.
While across the UK 18 per cent of people are aged over 65, by 2025 nearly a third of North Yorkshire’s population will be aged 65 and over.
There has been a 27 per cent increase of older people living in North Yorkshire since 2005 – amounting to an increase of 30,000 older people – whilst the overall population has grown by only 19,500, or three per cent in the same period.
But the meeting heard a senior NHS boss state the lack of staff in the area was due to an inability to attract workers rather than a lack of government funding, but not specific NHS service had a huge staffing deficit.
Helen Cammish, of Humber NHS Trust, said talks were being held about keeping winter pressures beds open.
She added: “We haven’t got full staff, but that’s the national picture. We have safe staffing levels to deliver the services we have, but we are very conscious in ourselves that our own staff will potentially become ill through this.
“We are as prepared as we can be and will do what we can with the staffing we have been set. Our focus at the moment is very much on getting community swabbing teams in place and dealing with the pockets of coronavirus as that happens.”