Health and social care staff in North Lanarkshire have developed plans to return services to the levels seen before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And they have stressed that this will be “by necessity, a gradual process”.
Workers were praised for their “exceptional” response during the past 18 months as members of the North Lanarkshire integration joint board (IJB) were updated on remobilisation plans for the next year at their recent meeting.
They also heard how phone and video consultations, introduced to minimise in-person footfall at healthcare facilities, have saved a potential 2.4 million travel miles in the past year, described as “equivalent to circling planet Earth almost 100 times”.
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Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire has developed plans on the “significant and immediate pressures” of the next year, including focusing on essential services, redesigning urgent care and patient experience; and has conducted dozens of service reviews to identify key priorities and help shape longer-term services.
IJB chair Dr Avril Osborne said: “Health and social care recovery is a gradual process – it’s important that people are aware of this and why it will take time to return to normal as we adapt to the disruption caused by COVID-19.
“The pandemic is still with us; however, we are now seeing increasing grounds for optimism all around us.
“We are taking a longer-term view to move to a more ‘business as usual’ approach, grasping this opportunity to further improve services for the people of North Lanarkshire; many of the initiatives and transformations will play a key role in helping us shape future services.”
She continued: “While it will take time, we are continuing to make good progress with this remobilisation work.
“It’s important that people realise that while services may have changed, staff have still been working incredibly hard, often in ways that are very different for them.
“Throughout the pandemic, health and social care staff have been exceptional. They have had to totally change the ways they work while also ensuring service users have been safe and their needs met.
“I have nothing but admiration for the way our staff has shown outstanding commitment, resilience and bravery – their dedication to provide safe services for the people of North Lanarkshire has been wonderful.
“They have continued to deliver essential services and have also shown a superb work ethic and played key roles in planning the way ahead so we meet our short-, medium- and longer-term priorities.”
IJB depute chairman, Councillor Paul Kelly, said: “We are determined to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, and are making progress which has resulted in services being brought back or modified so we can bring them back soon.
“This would not have been possible without the inspiring work of our staff who have led by example throughout.
“They have faced many challenges and a huge shift in how they work, have responded impeccably and have always put our services users first – their resilience has been truly impressive and shows their dedication.”
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