To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services which presents a further update on the current understanding of the system impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Leeds through the lens of health and care service provision, including the response plans and measures in place.
The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report that presented a further update on the current understanding of the system impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Leeds through the lens of health and care service provision, as well as providing an insight to the response plans and measures that are in place too.
The following were in attendance:
- Councillor Fiona Venner, Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships
- Councillor Salma Arif, Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles
- Cath Roff, Director of Adults and Health
- Victoria Eaton, Director of Public Health
- Tim Ryley, Chief Executive of NHS Leeds CCG
- Helen Lewis, Director of Pathway Integration, NHS Leeds CCG
- Sam Prince, Executive Director of Operations, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust
- Claire Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
The Director of Pathway Integration introduced the report, highlighting the wide range of issues partners are managing within the context of increased pressures and demands, continued gaps in workforce and the impact of social distancing on the number of patients that can be safely seen in person.
The Director of Public Health provided an update on the rates of COVID-19, which have dropped slightly nationally and also in Leeds, with under 300 people per 100,000 testing positive per day for the whole city. It was highlighted that the current modelling projection also suggests a downward trend in terms of rates and hospital admissions.
The Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships also highlighted that recovery measures have been incorporated into existing council strategies. The Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles advised the Board that the low uptake of vaccinations in deprived communities in Leeds is still an issue and requires further support and attention moving forward.
Members discussed a number of matters, including:
· It was explained that areas with the highest rate of infection earlier in the pandemic, such as Headingley and Harehills, are now showing the lowest rates of infection, largely due to the widespread immunity following previous infections. Rates are now higher in more affluent areas, where people who were previously working from home and were able to have limited exposure, are more exposed and less protected through natural immunity.
· Members requested detailed data in relation to the prevalence of COVID-19, with a breakdown by demographic groups, as well as take-up figures for the COVID-19 and flu vaccines.
· Members recognised that flu prevalence is a serious risk to older people in particular and therefore welcomed the focused campaigning on flu vaccinations too. In response to a query, Members were advised that flu vaccine take-up decreases amongst younger age groups, similarly to the COVID-19 vaccine. Related to this, it was noted that excess deaths from all causes is the most cohesive reflection of the pandemic.
· Members queried whether large increases in A&E visits and delayed waiting times, as reported in the media, are reflective of the position in Leeds. In response, it was confirmed that A&E numbers are still significantly above pre-COVID levels and, as a consequence, the Leeds A&E waiting time has been stretched beyond the four-hour target. Reference was also made to national guidelines which state that patients should be transferred from an ambulance to an emergency department within 15 minutes. Given the current context, it was highlighted that Leeds is one of the best performing areas in this regard, with no patients during the current period having to wait longer than two hours to be transferred from an ambulance into hospital.
· In response to a query, Members were advised that an extensive national recruitment programme for doctors is underway. Members acknowledged that a global approach is required to ensure that doctors are not recruited from other cities and countries that are also under significant pressure. It was also highlighted that the recruitment crisis continues into the care sector, with many choosing to leave social care roles and move to the retail and hospitality industry. The Director of Adults and Health advised that while government grants have been issued to support recruitment, more support is needed to increase rates of pay in order to compete with the retail and hospitality sector.
· In reference to the recent government announcement that staff who are not vaccinated will no longer be able to work in health and social care settings, Members sought more information on the impact of this change on the workforce in Leeds. Members were advised that while the current data indicates that 458 of 5966 staff in care homes are not double vaccinated, further work is being undertaken to validate these figures. It was also noted that care homes had put in place advance recruitment plans to try and deal with any consequential staff shortages.
· In relation to home care staff in Leeds, it was highlighted that 82.02% are currently double vaccinated. While acknowledging that the deadline for home care staff to be fully vaccinated is April 2022, along with NHS staff, Members were advised that health and social care services are awaiting further guidance from the government around plans to address any consequential workforce impacts.
· While acknowledging that NHS England colleagues had contributed to the broader update report in terms of outlining the current position on dentistry, the Chair informed the Board that arrangements are to be made to hold a separate working group meeting in the New Year to focus specifically on issues relating to dentistry. It was highlighted that representatives from NHS England had already committed to contributing to this working group meeting.
RESOLVED – That the contents of the report, along with Members comments, be noted.