Staff briefing roundup

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

Welcome – Rob Gerlis

General update – Peter Wightman

• I appreciate you all taking time out at such a busy time to join us for the final CCG staff briefing. We are now moving to ICS briefings only in the new year, but there may be adhoc ones for particular issues in west Essex. Measures are being put in place to make sure there are regular updates, and you can give much-needed feedback, about the transition
• Do give us feedback on the ICS briefings going forward and what is most effective and helpful to you
• There will be a weekly newsletter which the Communications teams are already working on together
• From January 2022 all staff communications will be done jointly as an ICB
• Going forward, we are still all working together. We are still one team and everyone in this organisation makes a huge difference to what we achieve
• Regarding COVID-19, the data in London is not good regarding hospital admissions but it is still very early days in understanding the impact of Omicron
• The prime risk to the NHS remains the loss of staff who are having to isolate because of Omicron, or have tested positive
• We are expecting to be briefed about the level of national incident and there is much more control coming regarding the national system. A letter from NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard, which was sent to all staff last Thursday, listed all the actions needed to get ready for the winter period and Omicron
• The Omicron data for Epping and Uttlesford is among the worst in Essex and it is the younger population generating these numbers, however – this is worrying, but we are waiting to see how this plays out

Vaccination update – Stephen Fry

• There has been lots of movement in boosters and also first and second vaccinations. Just over 37,000 boosters were given last week
• Cases of COVID have doubled in Epping and Uttlesford, slightly less in Harlow. While the numbers are going up quite quickly locally, this is not translating into deaths or hospitalisations. In fact, it is the lowest it has been but it is the impact on staffing which is causing problems
• There has been quite slow progress in flu vaccines, but the biggest changes are in the younger cohort
Rob Gerlis – it is worrying that pregnant women numbers are still quite low
David Wallace – we had the COVID protection board for Essex yesterday and case rates in Essex were reported as being higher than regionally with the hot spots for Omicron in Essex in terms of numbers being Chelmsford, Basildon and Epping Forest
Rob Gerlis – it is a numbers game – everything is running so hot, it only needs a tiny increase to cause problems
Peter Wightman – we are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. National want us to be ready to open up extra beds but staffing issues are a problem with this
Miranda Roberts – two thirds of those intensive care are unvaccinated and I am frustrated not enough is being made of this
Peter Wightman – in Harlow 25 per cent of people are unvaccinated and this is the highest in Essex and we are putting on extra clinics but the anti vaccine groups turn up there
Ian Tompkins – we have an additional walk-in clinic at Harlow shopping centre, increased capacity at Harlow Leisurezone and we are going flat out on the publicity for it all. The key thing is the booster – if you have had your first and second doses you have got to have the booster to provide that all important protection
• There is also an additional centre in Waltham Abbey and St Margaret’s Hospital will be vaccinating seven days a week
Rob Gerlis – the booster gives a jump to the antibodies and mixed messaging is a concern. The message is fully vaccinated is two dose plus the booster, but we are now seeing the three is what you need. We all need to try and get that message through
Simone Surgenor – my son is under 18 and a type 1 diabetic, you need to get a letter from the GP or you will be turned away and getting this letter is really quite difficult, so that might be useful to know when reviewing those vulnerable groups of people
Rob Gerlis – we had a really good call with Harlow Council regarding working with them across the board and having a uniform message – they are very complementary about the work we are doing
Anurita Rohilla – many thanks to the Medicines team who has straight away dropped everything to support the PCN sites in driving around making sure vaccines get to where they need to be
Rob Gerlis – regarding ordering LFT tests – if you order to pick up the pharmacies are not getting them but you can get them direct from the library in Old Harlow
Ian Tompkins – it is different supply chains, but the easiest thing is to order them online
• The St Margaret’s vaccination site will open on 27, 29 and 31 December and in between those days will be the PCN (Deepa). HCT is looking to staff the 27, 28, 29 December clinics. We are on the lookout for volunteers for queue marshalling and that will be done through Essex Provide/Essex Wellbeing and further details will go out very soon

Local update – Ian Tompkins

• There is a core team of people (the Child Death Review team) who are still working in the office and following very strict rules
• If you need to go in for IT issues, liaise with Alan Hicks and follow the guidelines
• Let your line manager know before you go in and sign in at reception so we know who has been there should anyone test positive for COVID
• The office will be open for that very core team next week
• Individual risk assessments are ultra important in making sure everyone is okay working at home – please review these as soon as you possibly can, if you’ve not yet done so
Anurita Rohilla – there is a new COVID medicines delivery unit delivered by PAH for more at risk groups of patients. They are being identified through the national system and being triaged but the demand is greater than anticipated

Peter Wightman – farewell to colleagues

Grant Neofitou – Jennie Knight is leaving on 31 December. She has been working on the vaccine programme for the past 12 months and is very much one of the unsung heroes
• Jennie has worked for 10 years in the NHS, starting in mid Essex then moving to west Essex. She is staying on the vaccine programme, with Herts Community Trust (HCT) – she is one of few individuals who is absolutely focused on patients at the heart of everything – we wish her all the best
Josephine Smit – goodbye also to Alice Vye who is going on secondment – we will see her soon and will miss her terribly
Ian Tompkins – a big personal thank you to Jennie and Alice, who have both been brilliant on the vaccine work. Their passion and commitment has been fantastic and we will miss you both immeasurably

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