Agenda item

Living with COVID

Presented By:Richard Harling


Dr Richard Harling presented to the Board and gave an update on some of the issues that may face us over the ensuing months and years. The virus has become endemic in our communities and It is unlikely that we will be able to eradicate it completely. This means we will need to maintain a series of Covid defences over the long term. This means that the future is quite uncertain. The Board paper and presentation outlined a number of plausible scenarios which we will need to consider and plan for.


Dr Harling suggested that under any scenario we will need to:


·         Maintain effective testing, contact tracing, isolation and outbreak management. This will mean that we need to make sure have facilities available for testing as many people as possible, as frequently as possible.  Contract tracing will need to be maintained and isolation of cases and contacts is expected to continue.

·         Whilst the uptake of the vaccination is very good there will be pockets where this is sub-optimal, we need to maintain the ability to deal with them. 

·         Covid security will most likely need to continue, and this will include some level of ongoing social distancing.

·         New Covid variants will evolve, which means that the vaccination will need to be updated on an annual basis.

·         In Staffordshire we are supporting the 50,000 clinically extremely vulnerable individuals. We have provided additional support in terms of shopping making sure that they can stay safe at home, underpinned by good communication to make sure that we get the message across.


Dr Harling outlined the 3 scenarios and suggested that at the moment there are some grounds for the more optimistic scenarios, but the risks increase as lockdown is released. 


What this all means is:


·         that we need to protect staff wellbeing and make sure we have sufficient capacity in 21/22. 

·         Continue the digital shift and move our services online

·         Pay close attention to demand for public services, which is unpredictable although we certainly expect high-level demands in NHS and social care to continue for some time, fuelled by prolonged periods of isolation and rising mental health issues. 

·         Keep a grip on our finances and lobby for continued and ongoing Government funding to enable an effective local response to Covid in the future.

·         We need to sustain and build on the improved partnership working of the past year.

·         Businesses that rely on face to face interaction have been and will continue to be affected, we will need to continue to find ways to support our business sector

·         Schools and universities have lost a year of learning and the challenge will be to try to recover and catch up. It is quite possible that universities will become less attractive options for young adults in future. 

·         The pandemic has damaged quality of life; we have early evidence that mental health problems are rising, and that inactivity, diet and obesity have deteriorated over the last year and we have a real challenge ahead of us to turn that corner. 

·         There has been a huge surge in volunteering and opportunity to harness this longer term. 

·         Social cohesion could be impacted if our population becomes more polarised between those wanting to protect the NHS and those more enthusiastic for returning freedoms and livelihoods more quickly. 


Cllr Roger Lees asked if we are getting sufficient vaccine supplies. Dr Richard Harling told the Board that the supply chain is improving. It was erratic initially but now we have a steady and improved supply of vaccines, the promise and expectation is that we will get to around 80,000 doses per week over the next few weeks.


RESOLVED: The report was noted and it was noted that the HWBB will need to support and work with system partners to address some of the risks and inequalities highlighted.

Supporting documents: