Together We’re Better Stakeholder Update
You will have no doubt already heard about the three-tiered COVID-19 alert levels, which were introduced last week and will be getting to grips with what they mean. On Thursday, Stoke-on-Trent City Council applied to the Secretary of State for Health for the City to be moved into the ‘high’ category. This follows a sharp rise in the number of cases over the past week. You can see the full release from the City Council, here.
The movement into this higher tier was agreed by the government, meaning that residents of Stoke-on-Trent must now follow the ‘high’ alert level rules, including not meeting socially with friends and family in any setting unless you live with them or are in a support bubble with them. This includes private homes and other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants. People can still meet outdoors in gardens, for
example, but the rule of six still applies and you must still stay two metres apart or at least one metre with added protection, such as face coverings. The full guidance can be found here.
Residents and businesses across South Staffordshire are also being warned the area could face tougher measures. The number of COVID-19 cases has risen rapidly here in recent weeks and there is an increasing risk not only to people’s health, but that South Staffordshire could also be moved to the ‘high’ alert level, given that neighbouring areas are in the category.
Another grave concern for the NHS is that the increase in cases in the community is now translating into increasing hospital admissions. We are seeing that some of our local acute trusts have seen COVID-19 cases roughly doubling each week over the last few weeks.
This comes as plans have been approved by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to establish a longer-term COVID-19 testing centre next to the Clinical Education Centre at Royal Stoke University Hospital. It will swab patients awaiting surgery and members of staff and could remain in place for up to a year.
There has also been a national message about the Nightingale hospitals, with three in the north being made ready for escalation capacity as hospitals fill up. We didn’t plan to use the Nightingale in Birmingham during the first wave, instead having local plans in place if needed. That local capacity wasn’t needed or used last time around, but it’s being made ready this time if we do.
As a reminder the instructions for self-isolation are below:
If you have COVID-19 symptoms
Stay at home and begin to self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms start.
Arrange to have a test for COVID-19 if you have not already had one. The result of the test will determine how long you must stay at home and self-isolate.
Stay at home while you are waiting for a home test kit or a test site appointment. A positive test result means you must complete a 10-day isolation period.
If your test is negative, you can stop self-isolating, as long as you are well.
If you do not have symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19 Stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the test was taken. If you develop symptoms after your test, restart your 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms start.
Stay as far away from other members of your household as possible, especially if they are clinically extremely vulnerable. Avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat.
You could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 and you are notified by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate.
If you have received a positive test result
A positive test result means you must complete a 10-day isolation period.
If you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 Stay at home for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in your house developed symptoms or, if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.
If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 yourself, you do not need a test. Only arrange a test if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
If you develop symptoms and your test result is positive, follow the same advice for people with COVID-19 to stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started, regardless of where you are in your 14-day period.
You could be fined if you are identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 and you are notified by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate and do not to stay at home and self-isolate.
Following these simple steps could make a significant difference in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 and help protect you and your friends, your colleagues and your family from the virus.
You may have seen the ‘Think 111 First’ programme and national press coverage recently. As space in Emergency Departments (EDs) has dwindled by around 30- 50% due to social distancing measures and with winter on its way with the inevitable pressure on EDs, the public will be asked to contact 111 first before turning up at an ED.
This is a national programme, with an aim to reduce unnecessary attendance to EDs, helping staff and patients to stay safe and directing them to the most appropriate service. No patients will be turned away but will be encouraged to use other services where appropriate.
The longer-term ambition is for NHS 111 to book patients directly into services out of hospital, including primary care and acute hospitals. There is lots of work going on behind the scenes as this programme moves at pace to deliver the national ask. This is a significant step forward in terms of patient experience and another example of innovation driven by the impact of COVID-19.
Another topical news story last week has been around the flu vaccination programme and lack of stock for certain groups. This is the largest flu programme ever and its inevitable this year we’ve seen a much higher uptake of people getting the vaccination this early on in the season.
By way of reassurance, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is supporting the expanded vaccination programme with additional supply of flu vaccines, which arrive later in the season to top up local supplies once they run low.
If you’ve got children in the family, check out UHNM’s flu animation for kids via this link.
In a separate note, World Menopause day is celebrated in November. Menopause is a part of every woman’s life. While some women sail through it with barely a symptom, it isn’t an easy transition for all. With the right support, their experiences both at work and in their personal lives can be improved. You can find out more about menopause symptoms and treatment on the NHS website.
• Public Health England has updated its coronavirus guidance in light of changes
to the government’s advice and continue to ensure guidance for the public is
timely and up to date. All guidance for members of the public, as well as for
people in clinical and non-clinical settings, is published and updated regularly on
the GOV.UK collection page.