NHS Update 7 January 2021

“A Happy New Year to all our readers.   We will continue to bring you updates with important information from the NHS and others throughout 2021.

Update from BHRUT You’ll be very aware of the intense pressure our two hospitals have been under in recent weeks. We have to hope that the latest national lockdown announced by the Prime Minister will have a significant impact on the infection rates in our three boroughs and lead to a noticeable reduction in admissions. I know lockdown is tough, but I hope you share my belief that it is the right thing to do. We are treating more and more Covid patients; we need to try and open more critical care capacity; and our staff – with help from our partners – have moved heaven and earth to discharge home those who no longer need our care. The NHS and our Trust is, arguably, under the highest level of pressure it has ever experienced. Everyone at the Trust is responding brilliantly. However, I fully appreciate the stress and the strain the ongoing demands are placing on my colleagues.

To help the senior leadership of our Trust help our staff, we have changed where some responsibilities sit, and we are being joined by two new members to increase the capacity of our team. Ben Morrin is coming on secondment from UCLH as our Deputy Chief Executive. I have asked Ben to help us renew our sense of pride in working here. We want to be an organisation where poor performance isn’t tolerated, and good performance is celebrated. As well as supporting our day-to-day work as we recover from Covid, Ben will also focus on improving our culture. The prize is a Trust where no one settles for second best. We will also be joined by a familiar face to many of you. Our CCG colleague, Steve Rubery – who is Director of Commissioning and Performance – will work alongside our Operations team for two to three days a week. His focus will be on our preparations for life, after Covid-19. I have asked Kathryn Halford, our Chief Nurse, to take on the additional and crucial responsibility of being our Director of Infection Prevention and Control (DIPC). The pandemic has meant we’ve had to increase our focus on infection prevention and control. With Kathryn as our new DIPC, our Chief Medical Officer, Magda Smith, will be freed up to focus on the integration agenda across our Integrated Care System (ICS).

Despite the promise feeling like a long way off, this new year does offer us just that – the prospect of our lives in the future not being as dominated by Covid-19, as they have been in the recent past. The vaccination programme we are a part of will help deliver a 2021 where the virus is, hopefully, brought more under control. Best wishes. Tony Chambers, Chief Executive

Update from Havering CCG Firstly some welcome news. A second Covid vaccine (from Oxford University/AstraZeneca) has now been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Delivery of this vaccine started this week and initially the vaccine will be given in hospitals. We continue to implement the very complex and large-scale vaccination programme across north east London and, given the recent approval on the principles and technicalities of how to deliver small packs of 75 vaccines, we have now started to vaccinate care home residents and staff in some of our bigger homes.

We know lots of people are eager to get protected, but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment. When it is the right time for people to receive their vaccination, they will receive an invitation to come forward and this may be via the phone, or through a letter either from their GP or the national booking system. In order to maximise the short-term impact of the vaccination programme, the guidance on priority groups issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has been updated. This advises that given the high efficacy from the first dose of both Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines, and the UK Chief Medical Officers’ statement that delivery of the first dose to as many eligible individuals as possible should be initially prioritised over delivery of a second vaccine dose. The second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be given between 3 to 12 weeks following the first dose. The second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine may be given between 4 to 12 weeks following the first dose.  The second vaccine dose should be with the same vaccine as for the first dose. Switching between vaccines or missing the second dose is not advised as this may affect the duration of protection. There is no preference for either vaccine as both give very high protection against severe disease. Amongst health and social care workers, priority should be given to frontline staff at high risk of acquiring an infection, individuals who are at high risk of developing serious disease and those who are at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable people or staff in a healthcare environment. Therefore we will be contacting some people who have had their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to delay their second dose.

A range of information including patient information leaflets, guidance and detailed information about the vaccine is now available on our website, and videos explaining the vaccine in Sylheti, Gujarati, Tamil, Urdu and Punjabi are also available to share here. COVID-19 vaccine: vaccine stories The National Institute for Health Research has developed a series of short films sharing conversations about vaccine research. The films have been made in response to communities’ concerns about the vaccine and have been co-created with them. Some are available in languages other than English as well. They embrace people’s hesitation around vaccine research, health literacy in general and the different challenges individuals face when deciding whether or not to take part. They could be useful to sign point members of your community to who have questions about the vaccine.”

Author: Stephanie Nunn

Steph is a Ward Councillor for Elm Park & Hornchurch Resident's Association Executive member.

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