A LOCAL authority responsible for an area with one of the country’s highest proportions of elderly residents has introduced a “wholesale transformation” of its social care service.

North Yorkshire County Council is recruiting an army of staff to pump extra capacity into the NHS to prepare for an expected coronavirus peak in its area later this month.

It has moved its frontline social care teams to work with hospitals in Harrogate, Northallerton and Scarborough to support emergency discharges for people and link into hospitals in Keighley, Middlesbrough and York, to speed discharges there.

The authority’s staff have been asked to aid targets of enabling a patient to leave a bed within one hour of a doctor saying a patient can be discharged and to leave the hospital within three hours.

The council teams, which will operate a seven-day-a-week 8am to 8pm service, will also work with community health staff and GPs to ensure emergency support and treatment for people in the community with Covid-19 and provide support for people in the community with social care needs.

It is also hoped the council will be able to recruit up to 395 extra posts, both within the County Council and the wider care sector, ahead of the expected coronavirus peak in the county later this month, which is thought to be about two weeks behind the peak in London.

The authority has announced it is also re-deploying staff from other parts of the council to support adult social care, bringing social care workers back from retirement and buying around 200 additional care home beds across the county.

Councillor Michael Harrison, the council’s executive member for adult social care, said the sweeping changes aimed to prevent hospital admissions and enable discharges at a faster rate and in much greater volume than has ever been achieved before.

He said: “It is a wholesale transformation of our service to meet the requirements of the NHS, the Government and our communities.”

Cllr Harrison said the council staff would ensure those being discharged from hospital area safe, well, well supported and in the most appropriate setting for them.

He said the council particularly wanted to hear from potential recruits who have a caring background, even if they do not have formal training, and those who had been hit by the retail and tourism industries downturn.

He said the authority had been supporting all care homes in the county to comply with public health guidance, and if some residents display symptoms then homes will be able to segregate people into “hot” and “cold” areas.

Cllr Harrison said: “We have probably got a couple of weeks on the rest of the country to get our plans in place to cope with the peak.

“It might be a sustained peak, so we need to make sure we have the resources in place to deliver this over weeks and months.

“Clearly with the more elderly population we have, there’s potential for more complications, so that’s where social distancing is key. Everyone has to step up to the mark.”