Together We’re Better COVID-19 Stakeholder Update
Last week many people joined in with doorstep vigils to mark one year since the country entered the first lockdown. Marie Curie announced a ‘national day of reflection’, for those who have sadly lost their lives to be remembered. Our hearts go out to anyone and everyone that has lost a loved one due to COVID-19, whether that be here in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, nationally, or even further afield. You can read Prem Singh’s briefing on the website, sharing his reflections here.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all you are doing. To the health and care workers, the key workers keeping our country going, carers and everyone beyond. Whether you’re a nurse, a social care worker, a delivery driver, a supermarket worker or simply doing your bit by staying at home and following all the government restrictions – thank you.
12 months on from the start of our fight against Coronavirus we are continuing to see a much-improved situation across the county. This is down to a combination of factors, including the success of the vaccination programme and the abundance of self-testing that’s now available. Most people are continuing to observe the isolation guidance and mask rules in shops etc. which should keep us moving in this downward trajectory and keep the numbers low.
The statistics are showing that 88% of everyone who has died to date from COVID-19 were over 80 years old. This also pushes home the importance of the vaccination programme to protect these members of our community against the virus as best as we possibly can, and the success of which can now also be seen in the lower bed occupancies across our hospitals.
So far over 45% of our overall population in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and 56% of the adult population have had their first dose of the vaccine. We do however still have some work to do still on priority group 6, which is those adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group.
Whilst our penetration levels across cohorts 1-9 are very strong, we are seeing a lower uptake amongst those with autism, renal and liver failure, sickle cell disease, severe mental illness and those who are alcohol dependent.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to reach the smaller numbers that remain within each cohort. And we would like to reiterate the huge thank you for everyone’s dedication and hard work. We are committed to leaving nobody behind.
There has been lots of targeted work happening with our ethnic minorities and ethnic groups, as well as people with learning difficulties and the homeless.
The focus this week is to encourage anyone over the age of 50 and those in at risk groups to book their vaccine as soon as possible.
While we will see a significant reduction in vaccine supply during April, we can confidently reassure people that locally we have a good supply. We have enough for everyone in cohorts 1-9 to receive their first dose as well as to fulfil any second doses that are due over the coming weeks.
Health and social care workers yet to be vaccinated are being encouraged to book their appointment now. The National Booking System will be in hibernation for first doses during April but appointments are available at all vaccination sites across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent until 31 March. Anyone who is in priority groups 1-9 and is yet to have their vaccination should book their vaccination now. You can book via the National Booking System until 31 March, or by calling 119. Where you have a second dose booked at a vaccination centre please continue to attend that booking.
The latest COVID-19 mortality figures show how far we have come even in a very short space of time, thanks to the hard work of health and care teams, the continued cautious approach, and the public sticking to the restrictions. Thank you. They also show the vaccination programme starting to take effect, and as it ramps up at pace it will provide protection for more and more people. However, we must be wary, as we have been in a similar position before. At the beginning of June last year, as the first lockdown was beginning to lift and children began to go back to school, the mortality figures were below the level they are now. They then began to rise as more and more restrictions were lifted. Although we didn’t have a vaccine then, it remains vital that we all continue to be as cautious as possible, as we cannot afford another major spike in infections.
Although things are definitely looking up we still cannot be complacent and must continue to comply with the guidance, and the hands, face space rules to control the spread of the virus. This advice applies even to those who have received a vaccine. You can still catch the virus and even pass it on to those around you once you’ve had your vaccine, so we must all still be vigilant for some time.
Getting tested regularly is also still very important and any household in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent where there is either a child attending school, or a member of school staff, can qualify for free rapid testing equipment to use at home. It means parents can have access to the lateral flow tests, rather than just children.
The Community Collect scheme means that kits can be collected at community testing sites. To find out more about the scheme and where home kits will be available from follow the appropriate link for Staffordshire residents or Stoke-on-Trent residents.
There are plenty of testing options available for all residents of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. For more information on the COVID-19 testing options open to Staffordshire residents please visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/testing and https://www.stoke.gov.uk/bookacovid19test for residents of Stoke-on-Trent.
You can find some key messages and assets to help remind people to keep following the rules via your channels and networks in the Cabinet Offices stakeholder and influencer toolkit.
NHS achieves key Long Term Plan commitment to roll out Integrated Care Systems across England
Patients will have better, more joined up care as Integrated Care Systems, which require all parts of the NHS to work with each other and their partners, are rolled out across the country from next month.
The final 13 areas, including Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, will be formally designated “integrated care systems” (ICSs) from April 1, hitting a major milestone in the NHS Long Term Plan.
A total of 42 ICSs, which bring together hospital, community and mental health trusts, GPs and other primary care services with local authorities and other care providers will cover the whole of England.
The Government has set out a White Paper which will build on recommendations from NHSEI to remove current legislative barriers to integration across health and social care bodies, and foster collaboration between NHS and local government organisations. This reflects the thousands of views received from every part of the health and care system and the public as part of recent engagement on what local leaders need.
An animation explaining more about ICSs can be found here.
The Ramadan start date for 2021 is expected to begin on Monday 12 April 2021, following the sighting of the moon over Mecca. Ramadan may be a few weeks away, but it’s likely to coincide with many second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (and some first doses). Getting the COVID-19 vaccine does not break the Fast and Muslim communities are encouraged not to delay getting the vaccine during Ramadan. Please use the messages and images attached across your communication channels to encourage people to continue to book their vaccine appointments in the coming weeks. Follow this link for guidance on Ramadan safety guidance to minimise the risk of catching COVID-19.
As you may be aware St John Ambulance have been helping the NHS Vaccination Programme by recruiting 30,000 volunteers in order to help vaccinate and support vaccination sites across England, and from those 30,000 21,683 people have been trained to date.
Applications in most areas are now closed as targeted numbers have now been reached. However, in the West Midlands some more people are needed to help, due to the number of sites supported.
Sites currently supported are:
- Millennium Point, Birmingham City
- Artrix Centre, Bromsgrove
- Telford International Centre
- The Black Country Museum
- Daniel Platt Park, Stoke-on-Trent
- Al-Abbas Islamic Centre, Birmingham
- Aston Villa FC, Birmingham
- Kingston Centre, Stafford
- The Lakes, Lichfield
- The Bowling Centre, Shrewsbury
Share your views on the roles of Allied Health Professionals
Have you used health and care services in the last few years? A national online conversation is being launched for people to give their views on what they think about how Allied Health Professionals can support their health and care needs. Your views are especially important if you have been seen by an ‘Allied Health Professional’. These important roles include paramedics, dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and many more.
The Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS, comprising of 14 professions and they want to hear from as many members of the public as possible so that a new strategy for how Allied Health Professionals can support people, in line with the NHS Long Term Plan, can be created. The conversation is open until the end of March. You can find out more and give your views here
Let’s Beat Loneliness Together
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic it’s been evident that communities will take action when something is important to them. Over the past year, the number of people volunteering, giving their time to support others, and doing small things that make a big difference has increased. Two surveys to help understand people’s concerns and what’s important to them were run and one theme that was highlighted in these surveys was loneliness.
To help address the issue of loneliness in Staffordshire the Let’s Beat Loneliness Together campaign has been developed. You can read full details here.