Staff briefing roundup

Welcome – Rob Gerlis

General update – Peter Wightman

  • The uncertainty with the situation in Afghanistan and how to help and support families coming from Afghanistan has been a big issue in the past week
  • National guidance has now been released regarding the ICS transition and there will be more to come. This has included assurances for staff regarding HR, although there is more uncertainty surrounding directors and above. However, this is all a positive move
  • There are meetings in the diary with Essex County Council to talk about how we work the boundaries
  • Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) continues to deal with the CQC and we are doing all we can to try and support them with this
  • The Consult Connect case has been brought by Grant Neofitou which allows advice from consultants to be accessed directly – we hope this will help with some of the backlog that has been built up and Grant will now work with PAH to choose specialities which will be the first to use this
  • We had the first in person meeting of the senior management team in a very long while and it really was amazing to be in the same room together after all these months of virtual meetings

Vaccination update Stephen Fry

  • Main change is the figures now coming through for 16 and 17-year-olds showing 27 per cent have been vaccinated
  • In total over 85 per cent of people aged 16 and above in west Essex have now been vaccinated
  • There has been a slight uptake in COVID cases, but the number currently being treated in PAH has stayed steady over the past two weeks at 23 last Friday compared with 22 the Friday before
  • Peter Wightman – it is currently relatively stable and we now await a decision on the vaccine booster
  • Toni Coles – regarding PAH, although COVID admissions are static there is pressure in the ED while other factors are also having an impact such as CQC pressures and staffing resources. Pressures are being seen all over, not just at PAH
  • Rob Gerlis – when someone is admitted, particularly if they are poorly and elderly, they are often disorientated and having family with them can often help with this. But this is currently still not allowed, so is there any way this could be looked at, especially in cases where there is a history of confusion already?
  • Toni Coles – yes, it is a good point which I can look into outside of this meeting

Spotlight – Long term condition in respiratory; Grant Neofitou and Louise Hehir

  • Long term conditions are those that can be managed, but not cured
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is the name of a group of lung conditions. They include emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which cause worsening breathing problems and which treatment can keep under control
  • Just over 5,000 people in west Essex are currently diagnosed as having COPD with it being more prevalent in the south where there are more deprived areas. The severity of the condition ranges from high to low
  • Preventative pathways are clinically led and there are nine care indicators including high impact intervention, smoking cessation, pulmonary rehabilitation (run by EPUT) and optimising medication
  • There was a reduction in COPD levels during COVID, but this has now started to go up again
  • Louise Hehir – looking at what the next steps are. Future projects include:
    • using hub models
    • re-starting spirometry
    • pulmonary rehabilitation, which has NHSE funding
    • a one-stop shop pathway at PAH, which brings together all providers
    • the smoking cessation programme, which is looking at focusing on mental health and maternity
    • the breathlessness pathway.

Grant Neofitou – COVID also sits within the respiratory group, but we have kept this separate

Peter Wightman – is the Breatheasy group running and what is the patient view on COPD?

Grant Neofitou – we have not had a focus on that recently and have missed that patient voice. We want to get back engaging as much as we can

Rob Gerlis – just to add… we should not forget air pollution and occupation (the glass factory in Harlow for example and the effects of asbestosis) are other big factors in COPD. Also, the jury is still out on vaping

Anurita Rohilla – does anyone want to guess how much we spend on respiratory medicines over a period of two months? it is around £800,000, so you can see how expensive these products are and why we have to be using them appropriately

 Local update – Ian Tompkins

  • There are two red quarantine hotels which are taking people from red listed countries who have to isolate. This is where families from Afghanistan will be headed. This has not been done before and we don’t know when they will arrive or how many there will be.
  • We have been working closely with ECC and MQS and the Home Office to prepare for those who are arriving – many with scars and bruises and also having experienced substantial trauma. The immediate response across agencies is to assess them and then support them with ECC and Red Cross ensuring they have clothes and basic supplies. Particular thanks to Anurita Rohilla, Grainne Stephenson, Sandra Herbert, Christine Muirden and Marion Jones for their hard work on this.
  • The vaccination of 16 to 17-year olds has got off to a good start with a queue forming at St Margaret’s this week while we will hopefully be vaccinating at the Linkfest event in Harlow this weekend and pushing take up among care home staff
  • Plans are still in place for the buildings at St Margaret’s to re-open on 6 September and we continue to try and resolve the issue around lockers, windows, and blinds. A protocol will then be put together to share with staff. Next week, at the staff briefing, Alan Hicks will be giving a demonstration on how to book desks – and individual training, which should be fairly straightforward, will follow

Joanne Reay – Welcome to Sameera Ahmed who is supporting us in the Mental Health team and working with myself and Jolaade.


Question: Cathy Mansfield – Do you know if there are any clothes/basics/teddy collections we are able to donate for the families from Afghanistan?

Answer: Ian Tompkins – the Red Cross is coordinating this, I know they have particularly appealed for games for children. We will update where the items need to be sent and share details in this week’s staff newsletter

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