Staff briefing roundup

Here’s a summary of what was covered in today’s staff briefing…

We start with some good news this week. The demand for hospital beds is dropping, which shows social distancing is working. This also means we are probably through the peak of the virus.

Andrew shared information from the call with Simon Stevens, who said there is likely to be a slow decline in the number of cases. The overall incident of coronavirus will be with us for another 12 months.

NHS modelling is considering different scenarios including:

  • if and when we may see a second or third wave of the virus
  • what the demands may be on hospital beds as we get closer to winter
  • what we do if we experience a flu epidemic as well and what impact that might have on health services.

Next steps

We are expecting the Prime Minister to make an announcement on Thursday this week, with further detail on Sunday. The announcement could be about schools opening on a selective basis and around specific school years. There is a lot of talk about which people may go back to work, and how, to get the economy going. However, rules around entertainment and theatres, restaurants and pubs are unlikely to be relaxed just yet.

The next phase is likely to be around the contact tracing and symptom checker app.

We are currently in phase one and about to enter phase 2, where we look at:

  • how we will get our critical services back up and running
  • assessing the demands on primary care as they have dropped
  • the impact on PAH now A&E attendance has dropped.

There are urgent health cases that are not presenting at hospitals. We need to reassure people the health service is safe and encourage some individuals back to treatment for conditions such as cancer.

PAH and EPUT are also looking at these things over the coming weeks and how they will be able to care for patients with COVID-19, but also safely treat and care for people with other conditions and illnesses. Some of the considerations will include:

  • whether patients are tested for COVID-19 before they undergo treatment or surgery
  • whether they should be isolated if they have symptoms before they have surgery
  • the way the hospital operates
  • whether you need regular testing to identify those with COVID as not everyone shows symptoms.

The staff update today should include a letter from Simon Stevens, which outlines some of this.

We are expecting more guidance on phase three and recovery once services are back up and running and how we keep some of the good work and practices developed during the pandemic.

Primary care

COVID demand remains low at less than 50 calls per day to NHS 111 for our area. 111 is now in place for GP bookings. Sydenham House, which was a hot clinic, will now operate as an out of hours centre at weekends.

Electronic prescriptions are up and running in most areas. The primary care briefings have been well received (note: these are now three times a week and not daily).

Doctorlink is now coming into practices and additional laptops with cameras have been distributed to GPs, so they can hold video consultations.

iPlato messaging system is also in place so GP practices can send group text messages to all patients in one go.

Hot hubs went live on 20 April, which was an important exercise but numbers attending have been low. However, this was a good exercise on which to base future work.

GP practices are open on Friday 8 May, Bank Holiday and VE Day for essential services. Pharmacies are open but times may vary.


There has been a lot of demand across the system for testing at the national centres, which includes Stansted. There should be a mobile testing site in Harlow from Monday 11 May to Wednesday 13 May. Booking will be made through the GOV.UK site and those eligible are key workers who have symptoms and anyone in their household who has symptoms. It has been extended to over 65s who have symptoms and those who are travelling to get to work, even if they are not key workers.

The Isle of Wight is testing a tracker app that will help to contact trace those with COVID-19 and place them in quarantine. If successful, this will be rolled out nationally and we are likely to support with that roll out. Similarly, we’ll also support any work on antibody testing. We will be working with partners including the military and local government on that.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, please report it to your line manager in the first instance. We can arrange for testing either at the national centre or at sites in Chelmsford, Basildon or Southend. These tests are taken to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, so results should come back to us quicker.

Starters and leavers

Jeneva Allison is leaving us in June to go to PAH as strategic HR business adviser.

Louise Thomas has already left us. Christine Cornwall has joined us in her place and will be looking at development programmes what can be done remotely.

Any other business

To keep us all fit and healthy at this time it would be good to hear from anyone who can help arrange some sort of fitness/yoga sessions online. We can’t promise anything, but if we can find a way to stay in touch and stay fit and healthy, it would be good to hear people’s ideas. Email the Comms team.


We welcome questions from colleagues, but we understand you may feel uncomfortable asking during the briefing. You can email the comms team with your questions and ask to remain anonymous. It’s important we know what you think and can only make changes and improvements if we know. So do get in touch.

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