Agenda item


This paper provides an update on the Covid-19 pandemic in North Central London.


Will Huxter, Clinical Commissioning Group (GGC) Director of Strategy, and Chloe Morales Oyarce, CCG Head of Communications and Engagement, introduced the item which provided an update on the Covid-19 pandemic in North Central London (NCL). It was noted that the pressures on health and care services were significant and that, although there had been a reduction in community cases, there were still large numbers of patients in hospital and particularly in intensive care. It was noted that a number of staff had been redeployed and partnership working was in place as much as possible. It was added that regional and national communications were highlighting that regular health and care services were operating.


Cllr das Neves enquired what support was in place for staff wellbeing. Will Huxter explained that a range of psychological and other support had been put in place across North Central London (NCL) and there were regular communications to staff about the support available. It was added that the Occupational Health offer was being enhanced and that specific work was underway to establish what support would be most useful for staff.


Cllr Smith noted that a number of NHS staff were unwell or self-isolating and asked about the levels of testing and vaccination of staff; it was also asked whether there was any reluctance to be vaccinated within the care system. Will Huxter explained that staff in hospitals and clinical staff undertook regular testing and were included as a priority group for vaccinations; it was added that there were high levels of uptake in all hospital sites across NCL. It was acknowledged that there was some vaccine hesitancy in care settings and that work was underway with all five boroughs to target support, advice, and messaging. Cllr Smith also enquired whether and how the NHS was using volunteering networks. It was confirmed that there were many good examples of partnership working with volunteers. Will Huxter noted that a written update could be provided to members on vaccine hesitancy in care settings and on volunteers within the NHS.


Cllr Freedman asked about the military support that was provided in intensive care. Will Huxter explained that military support was from combat technicians who assisted the experienced intensive care staff with tasks such as turning patients. It was noted that there were about 40 combat technicians currently working in NCL.


Cllr Cornelius noted that pharmacies had used a mutual aid strategy to share vaccination but that the five boroughs within NCL had different populations and some areas had older populations. It was enquired whether this system had been perfected and, in particular, whether there would be sufficient vaccination supplies for the second round of vaccinations for care homes. Will Huxter explained that the target populations across NCL were being examined and planning was underway. It was known that different areas had different demographics which may require additional vaccination supplies; there was regular contact with regional and national colleagues and there was confidence that there would be sufficient supplies.


Cllr Revah enquired whether the vaccine rollout was ensuring that people who were housebound and their carers were receiving the vaccine. Will Huxter noted that the housebound were on the list of people that needed to be reached and the rollout had started. It was added that additional information on the vaccine rollout for the housebound and carers could be provided in a written update.


Cllr Clarke noted that some people had received a negative lateral flow test but a later positive PCR test; she commented that £800 million had been spent on lateral flow testing so there were concerns that the tests were not reliable. Will Huxter noted that lateral flow and PCR testing were different but that test results could vary based on when a person was tested after contracting Covid-19. He explained that it was sometimes important for particular people to have a particular test and that the Committee could be provided with a written report to explain the different types of testing. It was added that spending on testing had been decided by government.


Cllr Hamilton enquired how communities with higher levels of testing and vaccine hesitancy were being contacted and whether local community volunteers were being used. Chloe Morales Oyarce explained that there was a substantial programme of community engagement on testing and vaccinations which included working with the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS), faith groups, and other groups. This engagement work included listening to different community groups and understanding the reasons for hesitancy, providing factual information, and working with community leaders. The Committee noted that local councillors could provide a link with local communities. Chloe Morales Oyarce noted that this would be helpful; she agreed to provide information about local engagements to the Committee and encouraged councillors to provide any relevant information and feedback.


The Chair commented that some questions had been received from a Health Champion in Barnet. It was noted that there had been some instances where older people had been required to queue for vaccinations for several hours in the cold without access to toilets. In other cases, some people booking vaccinations online had been offered an appointment in Birmingham. The Chair enquired whether these were known issues and whether there were any mitigations in place. Will Huxter explained that it was aimed to maximise vaccination and acknowledged that some initial issues had been expected. He was not aware of any significant issues similar to those raised but noted that he would feed this information back to regional and national colleagues to see whether further action was required.




To note the report.

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