Demand for care services in Harrow has increased significantly since the outbreak of Covid-19, but council officers insisted they are “not at breaking point”.

Paul Hewitt, corporate director of people services at Harrow Council, explained the coronavirus pandemic has put greater strain on health and care services in the borough.

He outlined the impact to a council overview and scrutiny committee last week as part of a report into the council’s response to the pandemic.

As part of the update, he noted that the utilisation of mental health services has increased, and more children have required temporary care.

There has also been an increase in suicide attempts in the borough – as of July 6, there had been 42 recorded attempts since the UK went into lockdown.

Mr Hewitt said these statistics were “symptomatic of the increase in need” and show the pressures carers and health workers are under.

“We’re not at breaking point, but there has been a significant increase over the last two or three weeks,” he said.

“These are snapshots, we don’t know if it represents an ongoing trend, but it will present challenges to our frontline staff.”

He added that it is vital to ensure there are strong support systems in place to ease the burden on care workers and the council should continue to “strengthen” these areas.

“We have a very dedicated, committed staff, but they are tired, they are exhausted, they have been running services seven days a week,” he said.

“We need all the support we can get from our partners. And we are getting it from schools and the voluntary and community sector – the system is really pulling together.”

He added the crisis has led to “greater recognition of the care sector” and that the council – and the wider public – must not lose sight of that.