Important message from Andrew Geldard about coronavirus

The latest information and advice for staff…

As you will all be aware, the current outbreak of novel coronavirus is resulting in national and international preparations being stepped up.

In declaring a level 4 incident, NHS England and NHS Improvement have established a national Incident Management Team and Incident Co-ordination Centre to run seven days a week.

The East of England region is doing likewise and is setting up a Regional Co-ordination Centre. This will be run by the East of England Ambulance Trust and oversee patient management, referrals and tracking. The centre will be fully operational by the end of this week on a 24/7 basis.

As part of this structure we, together with our CCG colleagues in mid and south Essex, have established an Essex CCGs Incident Management Team. Staffed by the Emergency Preparedness Resilience and Response Team (EPRR) and also running seven days a week, this will link in to the regional centre and co-ordinate arrangements more locally, providing a conduit for the escalation of any issues and questions to the region.

The team will also work closely with the multi-agency Essex Resilience Forum, which will oversee the response across social care, transport, policing and schools and so forth.

A further stepping up of the emergency plans and introduction of measures such as the closure of schools, will undoubtedly impact on our ability to deliver normal business. We could have increased numbers of staff absent or may need to ask people to help with other duties, such as incident logging. We are therefore reviewing our business continuity arrangements accordingly.

The main focus at the moment nationally, however, is to contain the spread of the virus. Comprehensive information and advice on how this should be done is available on the GOV.UK website.

Anyone with symptoms of the virus is being urged to go to NHS111 online in the first instance, or call NHS111 if they don’t have access to the internet. NHS111 will then decide if they need to be swabbed.

Those that are able and well enough to drive will be referred to a drive-through swabbing centre, which are being set up at strategic locations across the region this week.

One of these centres is being opened here at St. Margaret’s, alongside the Maple Lodge training centre. People who are referred to this will be directed straight to a gazebo outside the building and remain in their vehicle while they are tested by a clinician wearing protective clothing. Once tested the person will be told to drive straight home and await the results. The drive-through will hopefully be open tomorrow (Thursday). It will be run by EPUT.

People who are unable to drive to the centre, because they don’t have a vehicle, will be tested at home – also by EPUT.

While this all might sound alarming, please do not panic or worry. Just follow the advice of public health – on the GOV.UK website – and make sure you wash your hands with soap and water at every opportunity.

If you believe you have symptoms of the virus yourself, or any of you family members show signs of them, then the first port of call is NHS111 online. If you cannot access the internet then call NHS111. Do not go to your GP.

If NHS111 tells you to self-isolate at home, then follow the normal CCG sickness policy and report the absence to your line manager.

We plan to send everyone some questions and answers relating to this, as well as any other contingency/business continuity arrangements we might need to put in place, later this week.

There will also be an opportunity to discuss this together at the next all staff briefing on Tuesday 24 March.

In the meantime, please come to me, Ian Tompkins or Grainne Stephenson if you have any queries or concerns. Jeneva Allison will also be able answer any HR questions.

Andrew Geldard
Chief Officer

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