Oxford doctor warns of Omicron’s impact on health services

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ADAM BURNS, LOCAL DEMOCRACY REPORTER

An Oxford doctor believes there has been too much talk on vaccine mandates and not enough on Omicron’s impact on health services which were set to be “overwhelmed”.

Oxford Community Health Centre GP Dr Richard Clinghan says people need to be shouldering responsibility of the pandemic by reducing the surge on an already stretched health system.

The sentiments follow several days of demonstrations at Parliament by thousands of anti-mandate protestors, just as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 advances through the country.

Dr Clinghan says the focus had begun to shift away from the virus and public health.

“It’s unfortunate that lots of people have lost their jobs,” he says.

“But it is still important because we need to protect vulnerable people.”

“I think we’re talking too much about mandates and what we should really be focussing on is the fact that there are a lot of people out there, that are not vaccinated and that should be doing their bit by shouldering the responsiblity of this pandemic…because it is not going away.”

A flow on effect due to the likely high volume of cases meant even smaller community-based practices were set to feel the strain.

“Your local GP practices may struggle to keep on top of the number of cases that are going to be in community,” he says.

“So first your local GPs are going to be overwhelmed, then your secondary services will get overwhelmed.

“Our hospitals might be congested just dealing with Covid cases…people are still going to have heart-attacks, people are still going to have strokes, people are still going to have accidents.”

Concern was expressed last week by leading Covid-19 advisor Dr David Skegg around the number of eligible people around the country who were yet to receive a booster.

Districts in the North Canterbury region experienced a jump in booster numbers for those eligible for a dose over the past week.

Data from the Ministry Health records more than 65 per cent of those eligible in the Waimakariri district had received a booster, alongside 59 per cent and 72 per cent in the Hurunui and Kaikoura districts respectively.

Dr Clinghan says more people getting a booster was crucial.

“The higher the better.”

Although he underlined the significance of getting boosted, Dr Clinghan says all practices in the Hurunui will be there for “everyone”, irrespective of whether patients were vaccinated or not.

“We want to look after you and we don’t want anything bad to happen to anybody,” he says.

“Regardless of vaccination status…if you need medical help, please do come in and see us.”