Together We’re Better Stakeholder Update

Last week we were all talking about Margaret Keenan from Coventry and this weekit’s our turn in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Yesterday, 85-year-old Ed Broughton was first in the queue for his vaccination in Newcastle-under-Lyme. This signals the start of the vaccination programme rollout here in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent for members of the public and I think we can all agree that it’s being met with an air of excitement and relief from many after the year it’s been. 2020 is certainly going to be a year to remember, one that we’ll tell future generations that we ‘lived through’.

There’s a great video from the Newcastle South Primary Care Network (PCN) and their patient vaccination clinic. Some of you may even recognise Dr Barrie Edwards, Clinical Director for the PCN. It’s just over a minute long and gives an insight into the proceedings.

Priority for COVID-19 vaccination is being given to patients aged 80 and over, as well as care home residents and staff.
All areas will have a site, but don’t worry if you haven’t heard from your GP practice yet. Not everyone will be vaccinated all at once and it will be a relatively small number at first. You will be contacted by your GP when it is time to get your vaccine, so please do not call your GP surgery or any of the vaccination sites. This process will be a marathon – not a sprint, so please be assured that you will be contacted in due course if you are eligible for a vaccination.

The majority of patients will not be vaccinated at their own GP surgery, but will be asked to go to a local vaccination centre – this may be a different GP surgery or somewhere else that has been specially adapted.

• Ryecroft Medical Centre will be used to vaccinate patients in the south of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
• Smallthorne Surgery will be used to vaccinate patients from northern parts of Stoke-on-Trent.
• The four Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in Stafford and the PCN in Seisdon are working together using the Staffordshire County Showground and the Trinity Methodist Church Hall in Codsall. Both sites will be used to vaccinate patients from the Stafford and Seisdon area.
• Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium will be used to vaccinate patients in East Staffordshire.
• All areas will have a site

Colleagues across the NHS are doing an incredible job to deliver what it is the largest vaccination programme in our history, and we thank them once again for their efforts.

The public have an important part to play to help them do this:
• please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, they will contact you;
• when you are contacted, please attend your booked appointments;
• and please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives

It is important to remember that the full benefits of the vaccination won’t be felt until the spring at the earliest. Until then, it is important everyone continues to stick to the rules and gets tested if they have symptoms or if they are asked to take part in community testing for people without symptoms.

Yesterday, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced the result of the tier review. We heard that Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent will remain in Tier 3 – very high alert level restrictions. The rates of infection in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent remain high and our hospitals are still under immense pressure. It is therefore important that everyone continues to abide by the restrictions.

Some key points from the restrictions are:
• You must not meet socially indoors with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes private gardens
• Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must remain closed – they are permitted to offer takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services
• Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close
• You must not socialise in a group of more than six in outdoor public spaces, including parks
• Excluding certain exemptions hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close
• You should not travel outside of the tier 3 area to other areas and should avoid travel at all unless absolutely necessary.

If we all work together then we can start to see life get back to normal.

On that note, the local ‘Do it For What Matters’ campaign, promoting compliance across Staffordshire and Stoke-onTrent, is now in week three. As we rapidly approach Christmas the campaign has added some Christmas messaging to remind people that we are still in Very High Alert. Please join us in amplifying these messages by using the toolkit attached alongside this update in the email. You can find out more here.
It is extremely important to stress that the relaxed ‘Christmas Bubble’ rules do not come into play until 25 December. Therefore, it’s really important that everyone continues to follow the Local COVID Alert Level (tier) rules until this point.

Families will need to think carefully about the risks of forming a bubble with elderly relatives and the vulnerable. If a member of your Christmas bubble tests positive or develops symptoms during this period, or up to 48 hours after members of the bubble last met you should all self-isolate.

A reminder of the temporary relaxation of some rules which apply on 25th December:
• Three households can form a temporary ‘Christmas bubble’
• You can only be in one Christmas bubble and you cannot change your Christmas bubble
• You can mix indoors in places of worship, public outdoors spaces, your garden, private homes and stay overnight
• There are no travel restrictions
• You can’t go to a pub or restaurant with your bubble
• If you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating you cannot join a bubble
• You can meet people outside your Christmas bubble outdoors, but only in line with rules of the tier where you are staying

It’s important to note, though, that just because you can do the things stated above, it does not mean that you must. These relaxations are the maximum – not an aim. In fact, you will have seen many people all across the news lobbying for the government to rethink this relaxing of restrictions. The government has not changed its mind about the rules, not wanting to criminalise people for seeing loved ones at Christmas. However, as Boris Johnson stated on Wednesday, “A small Christmas is a safer Christmas. A shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas”.

We would advise you to do the minimum, rather than the maximum. This means reducing the time that you spend with your Christmas bubble and where possible, keeping a safe distance – even with those in your Christmas bubble. Do not travel between areas of high transmission and areas of low transmission if you can help it and. Similarly, avoid staying overnight if possible.

This will help to keep you and your loved ones safe and will also help your NHS.

As you may have heard, a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified, predominantly in the South and East of England. You can find a statement from Public Health England (PHE) with more information about this here.
PHE is working with partners to investigate and plans to share its findings over the next two weeks. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the strain has any impact on disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy.

We hope that everyone stays happy and healthy over the festive period, but, if you should need to access to a pharmacy over this time, you can find pharmacy opening hours across the Midlands region here.

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